In a major development, the UAE government on Monday announced gradual reopening of mosques, prayer spaces, and other places of worship across the nation from July 1 (Wednesday). To ensure physical distancing, the mosques and other places of worship will be operating at a 30 per cent capacity. The decision has been taken by the government in coordination with relevant federal and local authorities who have been ensuring all precautionary and preventive measures in the fight against the pandemic.
However, it has been clarified that prayer spaces located on motorways, industrial areas, commercial centres and parks, cooperative societies, and labour camps, have been asked to remain closed until further notice.
The announcement was made on Monday by Amna Al Dahak Al Shamsi, official spokesperson of the UAE Government, during the regular media briefing of the government during when National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) spokesperson Dr.SaifJuma Al Dhaheri provided an update on developments related to the pandemic response in the country.
Addressing the briefing, Al Dhaheri asserted that the decision to reopen the places of worship has been taken in view of the remarkable efforts taken by all relevant departments who have been carrying out COVID-19 testing in all mosque imams and workers in places of worship.
He later confirmed that the decision does not include prayer spaces located on motorways, industrial areas, labour camps, cooperative societies, commercial centres and parks, adding that these will all remain closed until further notice. Al Dhaheri also notified that Friday prayers will also remain suspended across all mosques until further notice, declaring that mosques will remain closed on Fridays only.
Al Dhaheri instructed the public coming for prayers to comply with precautionary and preventive measures. Worshippers have been asked to adhere to a minimum 3-metre safety distance between each other to avoid handshaking and congregations in any form. He further asked the public to wear face masks before coming for prayers and to perform ablution at home and sanitize their hands regularly.
Noting that the use of communal Holy books available in mosques is prohibited, Al Dhaheri added that worshippers should bring their own personal or electronic Moshaf for Quran recitals and readings. He urged all Mosque goers to download Al Hosn app on their smartphones.
"Every Muslim should bring his own prayer mat and should not leave it behind or store it at mosques after prayers," he said.
He also warned that keeping in view of the current circumstances, elderly people, including Emiratis and residents, as well as children aged under 12 years-old and people with chronic and respiratory diseases are not allowed to come to mosques or other places of worship to ensure their safety.
In addition, Al Dhaheri asked the people who have come in contact with COVID-19 patients an those living with patients under treatment to not to come to the mosques and other places of worship until they get the proper treatment to ensure public safety. At the same time, Mosques and places of worship where COVID-19 cases have been detected have been asked to remain closed, adding that necessary precautionary and safety measures should be taken for the safety of worshippers.
Relevant authorities have circulated these essential guidelines for gradual reopening of mosques and prayer spaces to all circulated to all places of worship.
During the briefing, Al Shamsi hailed the continuous efforts of the medical staff across the nation over the improved recoveries from the virus. She further expressed condolences to the families of the deceased and hoped for the speedy recovery of current Covid-19 patients
"All UAE departments and institutions are forging ahead with all measures needed to ensure a safe return to normalcy across all fields. However, we are in a critical period that requires enhanced awareness and increased cooperation from all community members," Al Shamsi said.
Meanwhile, operations of excursion boats, and personal and commercial yachts have also been resumed by the administration with 50 per cent capacity and Jet skis to be used by one rider at a time.
In conclusion, Al Shamsi urged to ensure that all precautionary measures are followed strictly while issuing a warning that any negligence and recklessness can undo all efforts made by the concerned authorities and healthcare professionals to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
"Despite the successes that have been made, the current situation is beset with challenges; as the novel coronavirus is evidently capable of spreading, which means that the failure to ensure physical distancing and adhering to other precautionary measures, especially in public areas, may result in negative consequences for individuals and wider society," she said.