Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo has lifted more COVID-19 prevention measures, such as wearing masks, and re-opened land and sea borders that were for the past two years closed to foot traffic. The loosening of pandemic restrictions has been welcomed as a step forward for Ghana's economic recovery.
Ghana’s president on Sunday said masks are no longer required and that all indoor events can operate at full capacity if participants are vaccinated against COVID.
He said visitors who are fully vaccinated no longer need to present a negative COVID test, and said foot traffic would resume immediately on all land and sea borders.
Akufo-Addo said the rate of infection has fallen, and that relaxing the measures will attract more tourists and trade to bolster the pandemic-hit economy.
“It has been a difficult two years for all of us, and we are seeing light at the end of a very long tunnel. As we lift these restrictions. Now is the time for all of us to join hands, work hard, and help put our nation back onto the path of progress and prosperity, as we resume full production and increase productivity. As your president I assure you, that sooner rather than later our economy will rebound from the ravages of COVID-19,” he said.
Akufo-Addo has been under pressure from opposition politicians and traders to re-open the borders to foot traffic.
Daniel Amartey is an economist with the Accra-based Policy Initiative for Economic Development (PIED).
He said reopening the borders will go a long way to inject more capital into Ghana’s economy by creating jobs.
“Reopening the borders now is a good news because it will revamp the economies along the border towns and principally it will help traders in the capital, Accra and Kumasi. It will also improve living standards. Also, government revenue at the borders will increase because there will be movement of goods from Togo to Ghana and Ghana to Togo,” said Amartey.
Nana Kofi Kwakye is a program manager with the Aurum Institute Ghana. He notes loosening pandemic restrictions comes with risk.
“There should be a greater push for higher vaccination levels. Currently, the vaccinated population is just about 30% so we just have a long way to go and we really need to push on that. We also need to push on the non-pharmaceutical interventions like mask wearing, physical distancing to make sure that we’re maintaining a readiness posture,” he said.
About a quarter of Ghana’s 31 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine but only 16% of the population is fully vaccinated.
Ghana’s health authorities say there is an average of about only 17 new COVID infections recorded each day.
But as the Easter holiday approaches, with large gatherings and movements of people, the data and science behind the government’s decision will be tested.