Pastor arrested for organising church service despite ban

Police in the Ashanti Region have arrested the head pastor of Open Arms Ministry in Kumasi, Apostle Kofi Nkrumah Sarkodie for holding a church service with his congregation at its North Suntreso Branch, contrary to the Presidents’ directive that church services have been banned following the coronavirus outbreak.

President Akufo-Addo on Sunday announced that following the detection of the coronavirus pandemic in Ghana, all public gatherings, including church services, have been banned for at least four weeks.

In defiance of this directive, the head pastor of Open Arms Ministry and his church members converged at the church’s premises on Wednesday, March 18.

The police moved in to stop the service and arrested the head pastor.

The Ashanti Regional Police Command is yet to indicate the full charges against the pastor.

All public gathering advisories

President Nana Akufo-Addo in a national address on Sunday [March 15, 2020] gave a list of guidelines on public gatherings in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

1. All public gatherings, including conferences, workshops, funerals, festivals, political rallies, sporting events and religious activities, such as services in churches and mosques, have been suspended for the next four (4) weeks. Private burials are permitted, but with limited numbers, not exceeding twenty-five (25) in attendance;

2. All Universities, Senior High Schools, and basic schools, i.e. public and private schools, will be closed Monday, 16th March, 2020, till further notice. The Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the Ministry of Communication, has been tasked to roll out distance learning programmes. However, BECE and WASSCE candidates will be allowed to attend school to prepare for their examinations, but with prescribed social distancing protocols;

3. The Government of Ghana’s Travel Advisory issued earlier today should be observed as announced;

4. Businesses and other workplaces can continue to operate, but should observe prescribed social distancing between patrons and staff;

5. Establishments, such as supermarkets, shopping malls, restaurants, night clubs, hotels and drinking spots, should observe enhanced hygiene procedures by providing, amongst others, hand sanitizers, running water and soap for washing of hands;

6. The Ministry of Transport should work with the transport unions and private and public transport operators to ensure enhanced hygienic conditions in all vehicles and terminals, by providing, amongst others, hand sanitizers, running water and soap for washing of hands; and

7. The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development should co-ordinate, with the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, measures to enhance conditions of hygiene in markets across the country.

So far, most of the institutions in question, which includes churches, mosques, and schools, have adhered to the directive from the President.

Many events which would have had the masses converging at one venue has also been cancelled.