In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
It is permissible to pay zakah in advance to help workers or poor families affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Answering your question about paying zakah to help workers or poor families influenced by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Dr. Jasser Auda, Professor and Al-Shatibi Chair of Maqasid Studies at the International Peace College South Africa, states:
Of course, giving zakah to people in need is one of the objectives of Zakah. People in need are not only poor people in the sense of not having something to eat but also people in debt.
Allah says in the Quran what means:
Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed to collect [zakah] and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah . And Allah is Knowing and Wise. (At-Tawbah 9:60)
Allah mentioned in the verse Al-gharmeen (those who are in debt). Those who lose their jobs or are influenced by the coronavirus situation are similar to those who are in debt. This is because they will need help to in order to sustain themselves and their families.
Other than the debt article of the zakah, there is also the general article of fi sabil Allah (in the way of Allah).
If you assess that there is any category that you can help in the way of Allah in the sense of helping them out of their difficulty, then this is also part of the obligatory zakah.
It is recommended in that sense to bring out the obligatory zakah even earlier that its time in order to help the workers or poor families influenced by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
We ask Almighty Allah to alleviate the difficulty soon.
Almighty Allah knows best.