President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has ordered the reopening of Kotoka International Airport, starting on 1 September 2020.
The president closed Ghana’s borders by air, sea and land to human traffic on Saturday 21 March 2020 in response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. The aim behind the closure was to stop the importation of the virus into the country and the ban on human traffic has remained in force up to date.
In his 16th address to the nation since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ghana, President Akufo-Addo said he is satisfied with the simulation exercises that have been conducted at Kotoka Airport and preparations for the return of visitors. Adequate testing facilities have also been installed at the point of entry, he said, and it is therefore safe to allow the airport to resume operations.
“Fellow Ghanaians, in update number 15, I announced the easing of restrictions in some areas of national life,” the president said. “I also indicated my hope that preparations and simulation exercises under way, including the installation of COVID-19 testing facilities at Kotoka International Airport, would give us a clear indication as to whether or not we could reopen the airport on 1 September.
“After weeks of thorough work, I am satisfied that it is safe to do so. Fellow Ghanaians, I am glad to announce that Kotoka International Airport will reopen and resume operations from Tuesday 1 September 2020. This decision has been communicated to international airlines across the world,” the president said.
Mindful of risks
The president said he is mindful that the very first cases of COVID-19 in Ghana were imported into the country and his government is determined to make sure the situation does not recur.
“The commitment to ensuring that the gradual easing of restrictions, including the reopening of our airports, does not lead to the importation or resurgence of the virus into our country, is firmly in place,” President Akufo-Addo said.
Additional measures have been put in place and duly communicated to international airlines wishing to resume flights to Ghana, President Akufo-Addo said.
They are, first: “Any passenger arriving in Ghana must be in possession of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from an accredited laboratory in the country of origin. The test should have been done not more than 72 hours before the scheduled departure from the country of origin.
“All airlines have been instructed to ensure compliance with this directive for all passengers wishing to travel to Ghana, and those airlines who fail in this regard will be duly sanctioned.”
Second, “Disembarking passengers must do so wearing face masks, and thirdly; upon disembarking from the aeroplane, each passenger will undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test at the airport terminal, at a fee to be borne by the passenger. The test result will be available within 30 minutes.”
The information available to Asaase Radio is that the fee for the test will be the cedi equivalent of US$150. Passengers will have to pay the fee online before arriving in Ghana, our sources say.
“Fourthly, children under the age of five will not be required to undergo testing at the airport. The fifth measure is that passengers who test positive for COVID-19 will be handled by the health authorities for further clinical assessment and management.
And lastly, passengers who test negative can, thereupon, enter Ghana to go about their lawful activities, and will be advised to continue to observe COVID-19 safety precautions during their stay in Ghana.”
Click on the link below to read the full text of the president’s 16th speech to the nation:
According to President Akufo-Addo, the Ministries of Information, Health and Aviation and their respective agencies – the Ghana Health Service, Ghana Airports Company Ltd and Ghana Civil Aviation Authority – have been directed to spell out in further detail the protocols surrounding the reopening of the airport, as well as the procedures to be adhered to by passengers arriving in Ghana.
They will outline the measures at a COVID-19 media briefing scheduled for tomorrow, Monday 31 August 2020.
Sea and land borders
Of the country’s land and sea borders, the president announced that they will remain closed to human traffic.
“For the avoidance of doubt, our borders by land and sea will continue to remain closed to human traffic until further notice,” President Akufo-Addo said.
Observe safety protocols
President Akufo-Addo made a passionate appeal to citizens to continue to observe all the COVID-19 safety protocols as set by the Ghana Health Service and government.
He announced that Ghana’s law-enforcement agencies will continue to ensure that everyone strictly observes the health measres.
“I have been reliably informed that, in some regions of our country where there are no active cases, some residents are abandoning altogether the protocols, such as the wearing of masks, put in place to defeat the virus. Indeed, the high compliance rate with mask-wearing of persons surveyed by the Ghana Health Service in some selected areas of Accra, to which I referred optimistically in my last address, has, according to a new survey by the same service, fallen alarmingly.
“This is not acceptable, as the enhanced hygiene, mask-wearing and social distancing protocols must now be central features of our Iives, and they must continue to remain so for some time to come, until we see to the elimination of the virus from our country,” President Akufo-Addo said.
“Let me remind those among us who want to continue to disregard these protocols that severe sanctions exist in our laws for such persons, who will want to endanger the rest of the population through their actions and negligence. The law-enforcement agencies will, where necessary, apply these measures without fear or favour, ill-will or malice, and without recourse to a person’s ethnicity, gender or religion,” the president said.
Click the link below to watch President Akufo-Addo inspect the state of preparedness at Kotoka International Airport.
Wilberforce Asare / Asaase Radio