As more countries ease restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi Arabia opened on Sunday more than 1500 mosque in Makkah for the first time since more than three months.
Before the opening, authorities said mosques had been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. In addition, other measures have been already in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including:
- Doors and windows will remain open during prayers
- Prayer spaces have been marked to ensure that worshippers maintain a distance of 2 meters from each other.
“The mosques in the holy city will begin to reopen their doors to the faithful on Sunday after three months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic,” the state-run Al Ekhbariya channel reported, citing a decision by the Islamic affairs ministry, Arab News reported.
Hadiyah, the Hajj and Umrah charitable organization, in partnership with the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance, earlier launched an initiative to equip mosques that have no maintenance and operation contracts.
“The initiative was launched at Al-Salaf Al-Saleh Mosque in Makkah. It will cover 250 mosques,” Hadiya’s General Director Mansour Al-Amer said.
“We will be implementing several precautionary and preventative measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 to ensure a safe return to worshipers, placing stickers that ensure a safe distance between worshipers, providing prayer rugs for workers, and providing a tool (the safety key) for those in charge of mosques to use it while opening and closing doors and windows, to operate air-conditioners and lights, and to reduce their contact with surfaces.”
Congregation prayers are already being taken place at The Grand Mosque in Makkah, the Makkah Haram. However, only a restricted number of worshippers are allowed to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Since the outbreak of the new coronavirus pandemic, Saudi Arabia has taken drastic measures to halt its spread.
Measures included the closure of the Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah, suspension of Umrah and enforcement of a lockdown.
Last month, worshippers returned to the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah and 90,000 across Saudi Arabia after 70 days of shutdown.
As of Sunday, Saudi Arabia reported a total of 157,612 COVID-19 cases, with 1,267 deaths.