Ghana Ends Mandatory Face Mask-Wearing, Reopens Borders After Two Years
Ghana reopened its land and sea borders on Monday after a two-year closure as it lifted some coronavirus restrictions in an attempt to bolster a flagging economy.
President Nana Akufo-Addo also announced in a televised address on Sunday night that the wearing of masks in the West African country is no longer mandatory as active Covid-19 cases drop below 100.
Afuko-Addo said outdoor functions can resume at full capacity as long as all persons are fully vaccinated.
From Monday, fully vaccinated travellers will no longer have to take Covid tests to enter the country.
“It has been a difficult two years for all of us, and we are seeing light at the end of a very long tunnel,” the Ghanaian leader said.
“I appeal to all of us to live responsibly, protect ourselves at all times.”
Ghanaians living in border communities who usually trade with neighbours in Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Togo applauded the decision, saying it will bring life back to their areas.
“I have lost my business. Before the closure of the border I used to trade with some Ivorians,” Joseph Mintah, a father of four from Elubo, a border town in western Ghana, told AFP.
“Now I have no option than come to Accra to look for job. I’ll be returning after this.”
Beatrice Konadu said her business selling cosmetics and customised slippers over the border in Togo and Burkina Faso had also collapsed.
“It has been tough for me,” she told AFP by telephone from Aflao on the border with Togo.
“The president’s announcement comes as a great news, but it has been long overdue.”
Ghana has so far vaccinated 13 million people with one dose and five million — 16 percent of the population — have been fully vaccinated, according to the Ghana Health Service.
Ghana’s economy is struggling to rebound from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and with a heavy public debt load.
Recent data published by the Bank of Ghana indicates the country’s debt to GDP ratio was 80.1 percent at the end of December 2021.
Cost of living has recently shot up with rising fuel prices as a result of the Ukraine crisis.
The president and his ministers recently cut their wages by 30 percent along with other measures they hope will help generate $400 million in savings for state coffers.
The West African bloc ECOWAS agreed to re-open land borders around January this year after noting the group’s economies lost $50 billion or 6.7 percent of their cumulative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) between 2020 and 2021.