Coronavirus: Gradual opening at UAE mosques, places of worship as COVID-19 rules ease

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The United Arab Emirates has announced plans to gradually reopen mosques and places of worship starting from July 1 with a maximum of 30 percent capacity, according to an official statement.

Friday prayers in mosques remain suspended until further notice.

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“People must adhere to social distancing measures between worshipers by leaving a safe distance of three meters between each other and not to gather and shake hands in any form,” said Saif al-Dhaheri, spokesperson for the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA).

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“Each worshipper must bring his own prayer rug and it will not be allowed to leave it in the mosque after the end of the prayer. Ablution must be performed in the homes in addition to sanitizing the hands continuously before coming to the mosque. A facemask will be mandatory when attending each prayer,” al-Dhaheri added.

The UAE suspended prayer in all houses of worship including mosques across the country on March 16 as part of the country’s efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Initially, the suspension was meant to last four weeks but has been extended ever since.

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Prayer spaces located on motorways, industrial areas, labor camps, cooperative societies, commercial centers and parks in the UAE will all remain closed until further notice, officials added.

"Reopening places of worship is due to the tremendous efforts made by all relevant departments who initiated the Covid-19 testing of all mosque imams and workers in places of worship. Friday prayers will remain suspended in all mosques until further notice and therefore mosques will remain closed on Fridays only," al-Dhaheri.

Officials said Quran recitals and readings should be done from the worshiper’s own personal or electronic Moshaf, adding that that all use of communal Holy books available in mosques will be prohibited.

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