President Nana Akufo-Addo has lifted the partial lockdown on some parts of the country which was necessitated by the spread of the novel coronavirus. This makes Ghana one of the first countries worldwide to ease restrictions on movement during the pandemic. Addressing the nation in a televised broadcast, the President said the lockdown will be lifted from 1 am on Monday, April 20.
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Chronology Of Events
Accra, Tema, Kumasi and Kasoa, had been under a partial lockdown for the three weeks in which period Ghana’s coronavirus cases have risen to 1,042. In this period most of 68,591 contacts traced have been tested, according to President Akufo-Addo.
“Indeed, Ghana is the only other country in Africa to have conducted more than 60,000 tests, and we are ranked number one in Africa in administering of tests per one million people,” he affirmed.
The president said the ease of restrictions was “in view of our ability to undertake aggressive contact tracing of infected persons” among others.He also cited the enhancement of testing capacity, increased local production of PPEs and “the severe impact on the poor and vulnerable.”
Ban On Gatherings Still Holds
Despite the lifting of the lockdown, Ghana’s borders will remain closed. The ban on social gatherings of more than 25 persons is also still in place.
President Nana Akufo-Addo stressed that “lifting these restrictions does not mean we are letting our guard down.”
“I am demanding even greater adherence to these measures,” he added.
For the avoidance of doubt, President cited “conferences, workshops, funerals, parties, nightclubs, drinking spots, beaches, festivals, political rallies, religious activities and sporting events.”
Though all educational facilities are also to remain closed, “businesses and other workplaces can continue to operate, observing staff management and workplace protocols with the view to achieving social distancing and hygiene protocols.”
The cumulative effect of the novel coronavirus pandemic has already been estimated at GHS9.505 billion after the halting of activity in most sectors of the economy.
Stimulus Package For Businesses
The worst-hit businesses are expected to benefit from a stimulus package from the government.
Parliament’s has given the Minister of Finance the green light to make use of the GHS 1.2 billion Contingency Fund to lessen the toll of the pandemic on the economy.
Parliament also approved a $1 billion IMF Rapid Credit Facility in this regard. The strain on businesses has led observers to urge the government to be mindful of the economic casualties as well as the business ones.
During the lockdown, only persons with the food value chain were allowed to operate in markets though they had minimal patronage.
Other sectors of the workforce that were allowed to work included persons aligned to the production, distribution and marketing of pharmaceuticals, medicine, paper and plastic packages, environmental and sanitation activities, road and railway construction workers, members of the security agencies, workers at fuel stations and staff of utility, telecommunications, e-commerce and digital service providers.
Despite the expected economic relief, opposition leader, John Mahama suggested that the government extend lockdown in the build-up to the President’s announcement.
Mr. Mahama, who is also the flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in a tweet said this was necessary because of advice from health experts and the upsurge in the number of cases.
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