Four people have been charged for violating restrictions on public gathering and organising the Christ Embassy's ‘Pneumatica Night’ event which saw over 10,000 people attending with majority of them not wearing any face coverings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Three of them are members of the Christ Embassy Church.
The fourth person is the one who manages the Fantasy Dome facility at the Trade Fair Centre.
They are said to have breached COVID-19 protocols by organising the 'Pneumatic Night' event for the Christ Embassy church during which over 10,000 people gathered in breach of the ban on mass gathering as part of efforts to help prevent the spread of the disease.
Apart from that, many people who gathered for the event, mainly the youth did not wear face coverings to help prevent the spread of the virus.
The charges levelled against them include failure to comply with restrictions imposed contrary to Regulation 4 of the Imposition of Restrictions (coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic) (No. 16) instrument, 2020 Executive Instrument (E.I.) 395 and Section 6 of the imposition of the restriction Act, 2020 (Act 1012).
Related: Police investigate Christ Embassy for flouting COVID-19 protocols
The police on Sunday invited for questioning, the leaders of a charismatic church, Christ Embassy Church in Ghana, over an alleged gathering by the youth of the church who blatantly disregarded the COVID-19 safety protocols at an event at the Fantasy Dome, Trade Fair Centre in Accra last Friday, April 30, 2021.
Also, the management of the venue was invited for questioning as part of police investigation over a video of the alleged gathering, dubbed: "Pneumatic Night" which showed an event that had a mass crowd in attendance but without face masks and were seen screaming, chanting and dancing to the "evangelism" which was considered a super spreader event for COVID-19.
As further action, the police temporarily closed down the Fantasy Dome while investigations continued.
Additionally, the police on Sunday laid surveillance and ensured that a similar event held at the Christ Embassy Service Centre at UPSA took place with all the COVID-19 protocols being observed.
It warned that persons found culpable in the investigation would be prosecuted accordingly.
The video, which trended last Saturday and Sunday, showed a fully-packed air-conditioned dome of excited youth who were engrossed in their worship, in a manner similar to church crusades and conventions before the pre-COVID-19 times.
Apart from all who attended the event and were captured in the video not wearing masks, there was no social distancing as the congregants sat or stood very close to one another.
The leaders of the programme were also not in face masks.
The event has attracted wide condemnation from the general public
No police security
However, the police said they had no knowledge of the event taking place and did not give approval to the organisers.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ghana last year, mass gatherings have been banned as part of efforts to curb the spread of the disease.
After almost six months of complete closure, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced that church and other religious activities would take place within two hours, but with the strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocols of handwashing with soap and under running water, social distancing in the seating arrangements for such programmes, while the general public were also encouraged to use the hand sanitiser when needed.
The adherence to these protocols has allowed religious events to take place while other social events, such as parties and other celebrations, still remain banned.
Fine for Christ Embassy founder
The communications regulator in the United Kingdom, Ofcom, last month fined the leader of the church, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, a Christian broadcaster £125,000 after it breached the rules by airing “inaccurate and potentially harmful claims about coronavirus”.
Loveworld Television Network, also known as Christ Embassy, an evangelical Christian ministry founded in Nigeria and led by Pastor Oyakhilome, was found to have made the violation back in January this year after a 29-hour show titled: The Global Day of Prayer featured sermons with “potentially harmful” claims about COVID-19 – including that the virus was “planned” and created by the “deep state”, and vaccines were a “sinister” means of administering “nanochips” to control people.
Ofcom had already ordered Loveworld not to repeat the programme and to broadcast a summary of its decision three times in a day, but has now issued the fine after concluding the breaches were “serious, repeated and reckless”.
It marks the second time in a year that the regulator has ruled against Loveworld Limited for unsubstantiated claims made about COVID-19 on air.
In April 2020, Loveworld broadcast false claims that the cause of coronavirus was linked to the rollout of 5G technology.
During one of the network’s news programmes, a presenter claimed the bogus link represented “the largest global cover-up in history”, and continued: “This is not coronavirus, but cell poisoning. Remember 5G started in China. Wuhan is one of the provinces where 5G has been rolled out.”
Ofcom, in its ruling, stressed that “inaccurate and potentially harmful claims” made during The Global Day of Prayer show could not go unpunished because they were “unsupported by any factual evidence and have the potential to undermine confidence in public health measures put in place to tackle COVID-19 – at a time when people were looking for reliable information given advances in the vaccination programme.”