In spite of the incidence of the volatile Omicron variant of COVID-19, there was generally a high disregard for the safety protocol during the Yuletide, as people showed up at mass gathering events, neither properly masked nor observing social distancing.
From the musical concerts through to the beaches, the situation was the same, although entry into the inner perimeters of beach resorts was based on the vaccination card.Follow @Graphicgh
Daily Graphic’s correspondents — Daniel Kenu, Kumasi; Benjamin Xornam Glover, Sakumono; Jemima Okang Addae and Dickson Worlanyo Dotse, Accra — witnessed the events.
At the Accra Stadium, where Shatta Wale and Medikal headlined a musical concert on Christmas day, the stands were filled to capacity.
The concert, dubbed: Freedom Wave, had a number of popular young artistes, and there were images of attendees, mostly the youth, seated or standing shoulder to shoulder without masks in the charged up atmosphere.
The heavy patronage at most bars and pubs within the metropolis also happened under similar circumstances.
Although revellers were turned away from the beaches, particularly within the Accra Metropolis, on Christmas day, they were allowed to be at the beach on New Year’s Day following a review of a directive from the Regional Security Council (REGSEC).
Most entrances of the beaches were crowded with hundreds of people seeking entry to celebrate the New Year’s Day.
On the eve of Christmas, the REGSEC ordered the closure of the beaches as part of efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
However, beach operators accused the REGSEC of being selective in implementing measures to curb the spread of the virus, and questioned why the authorities allowed musical events to be held during the Christmas only to prevent revellers from patronising the beaches.
The Greater Accra Regional Minister and Chairman of the REGSEC, Mr. Henry Quartey, subsequently directed that beaches could operate following an extended REGSEC meeting after the Christmas festivities, but stressed the need for patrons to show proof of vaccination or be vaccinated at the beaches, while COVID-19 safety protocol was strictly enforced.
At the Titanic Beach in Sakumono, near Tema, heavy security details, mainly made up of personnel of the Ghana Immigration Service, the Ghana National Fire Service and the Marine Police Unit of the Ghana Police Service, mounted check points where they inspected COVID-19 vaccination cards before allowing patrons access to the shore.
The Ghana Health Service, in collaboration with the REGSEC, vaccinated people at the entrance of many of the beaches.
Vaccination points were mounted at the Labadi, LaBoma, Titanic and Independence beaches, among others, to offer people the opportunity to take the jab or forfeit the adventure altogether.
In Kumasi, the COVID-19 safety protocol, particularly the wearing of face masks in public, were similarly disregarded during the festive season.
Indeed, the situation was worse at some pubs and taverns where patrons danced freely without face masks.
But unlike previously when the pubs were jam-packed, the numbers were far reduced.
Ahead of the Christmas period, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) warned the public to be cautious in the wake of the fast-spread of the Omicron variant to prevent a possible fourth wave in the country.