Reopen Mosques

Gaza mosques to reopen for prayers after closure

By Nour Abu Eisha
GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – Mosques in the Gaza Strip will reopen to worshippers as of Wednesday after more than two months of closure due to the spread of coronavirus, the Ministry of Religious Affairs said on Monday.

"All mosques will reopen for prayers," ministry undersecretary Abdel-Hadi al-Agha told a press conference in Gaza City.

He said any other religious activities, however, will not be allowed at mosques.

Al-Agha called on all worshippers to pursue all preventive measures at mosques, including wearing face masks, and maintaining social distancing rules to help stem the spread of the disease.

Palestinian authorities shut all mosques in the Gaza Strip late March as part of measures to combat the illness.

Health authorities confirmed over 600 virus cases in Palestine, including three deaths. Only one fatality and 54 infections were reported in the Gaza Strip.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

Saudi mosques reopen for prayers after closure

RIYADH (AA) – Mosques across Saudi Arabia reopened for prayers on Sunday, for the first time in more than two months due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

Worshipers were allowed to enter the mosques, except the mosques in the holy city of Makkah, for the dawn prayers with a limit of 40% capacity.

The official SPA news agency published several images of worshippers performing prayers at mosques amid preventive measures to combat the virus.

Saudi authorities said millions of text messages were sent to people to inform them about the new rules for prayers. These rules include keeping a two-meter (six-foot) distance between people during prayers, wearing face masks at all times and abstaining from greeting one another with handshakes or hugs.

Saudi Arabia suspended public prayers at mosques across the country late March as part of measures to stem the spread of coronavirus.

The kingdom has so far confirmed 83,384 virus cases, including 480 deaths.

Iran reopens mosques despite surge in virus cases

By Syed Zafar Mehdi
TEHRAN (AA) – Iran reopened all mosques across the country on Tuesday despite a surge in the number of coronavirus cases.
The move was taken to allow worshippers to observe the last ten days of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, the Mehr news agency said, citing Head of Islamic Development Organization Hojatoeslam Mohammad Ghomi.

Reopening mosques comes despite a surge in the number of COVID-19 infections in Iran this week.

On Monday, Iranian authorities confirmed 45 deaths and 1,683 virus cases across the country.

The Health Ministry said worshippers going to mosques would be required to adhere to health protocols and social distancing rules.

The advisories include wearing masks and gloves, using disposable plastic bags for shoes, desisting from serving food or beverage inside the mosques and allowing attendees inside after sanitizing their hands.

Authorities, however, have not taken a decision yet on reopening religious shrines in the cities of Qom and Mashhad, which attract a large number of worshippers during the last days of Ramadan.

Sources, however, said exterior compounds of the two shrines in the two cities are to be thrown open to public on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Last week, the Iranian government reopened mosques in 132 "low-risk" areas, which witnessed a decline in COVID-19 infections.

One of the first countries to be hit by the global pandemic, Iran has confirmed 6,685 deaths and 109,286 infections from the virus so far.

Muslims in South Korea to reopen mosques from May 6

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ANKARA (AA) – Muslims in South Korea on Monday decided to reopen mosques as of Wednesday, as the country reported no locally transmitted case of the coronavirus for the third day in a row.

With boost in confidence about overcoming worst of COVID-19 pandemic, the Muslims in South Korea on Monday announced to open mosques for worshippers.

In a statement, Seoul-based Korea Muslim Federation said that mosques will be opened for congregational Friday prayers and special late-night prayers (Tarawaeeh) during the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramazan.

The federation, however, asked the Muslims of the country to follow government measures against the COVID-19 and maintaining a one-meter distance during prayers.

“All Muslims should follow all conditions which may prevent the spread of COVID-19,” the statement added.

Following the outbreak of the pandemic, the government had asked religious communities to reduce gatherings to help stem the spread of the deadly infection.

The federation has asked the Muslims to use hand sanitizer, wear face masks, and register themselves before entering the mosque for records.

The government has also decided to gradually begin opening schools from next week.

Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the country’s total number of confirmed cases rose to 10,801 after eight more imported cases of the deadly infection were reported on Monday.

Two more patients died due to the virus, raising the toll to 252.

Some 9,217 coronavirus patients have recovered making up 85% of the total number of infected persons in the country. South Korea has conducted 633,921 tests since Jan 3.