Mosques in Germany to Gradually Reopen as Coronavirus Lockdown Eases04 May 2020
The Muslim Coordination Council (KRM), which represents the majority of the Germany’s mosques, has welcomed a decision by the country’s government to reopen mosques as part of a wider effort to ease coronavirus lockdown. The decision was made after COVID-19 infection and death rates in the country declined and will see the gradual reopening of many public areas including places of worship, playgrounds, parks, museums, galleries, zoos and monuments. The KRM said that it will follow specific guidelines towards ensuring that outbreaks do not spread among the congregation.
It remains to be seen if the move will lead to a wider easing of the lockdown. In the immediate days following the easing of the lockdown, the country saw renewed rise in COVID-19 infections, raising fears that lockdowns may need to be implemented again.
Germany started easing lockdowns at the end of April
Germany took the first steps to ease the lockdown at the end of April, allowing small shops, as well as bookshops, car showrooms and bike stores to resume their businesses. The decision came after experts said that the rate of infections in the country has come under control. The country still barred the opening of large shops and pushed for compliance with social-distancing measures. By early May, the country has lifted restrictions on schools, allowing them to start reopening alongside barber shops, playgrounds, parks, museums, galleries, zoos and monuments.
The KRM, which includes the country’s four major religious organisations, praised the decision. KRM spokesperson, Burhan Kesici, said that the reopening of the mosques can take place as early as May 9 as long as communities can meet the requirements. These requirements include a limit to how many people can pray in mosques, a 1.5-meter gap between each worshipper, requirement that worshippers bring prayer rugs, that entries and exits are regulated and that rooms are disinfected. Kesici also said that only three of the five daily prayers (Dawn or fajrjr as well as early and late afternoon or dhuhr and asr) ) will be held in the mosques and that people must also wear masks. Major congregational prayers, such as taraweeh and Eid al-Fitr, will remain suspended.
Kesici also said that these decisions may be reviewed in the coming days, depending on how the situation develops.
Small rise in Germany’s infection levels raises fears of prolonged lockdown
In the days following the initial easing of the lockdown, Germany witnessed a rise in COVID-19 cases, with 1,304 new cases reported last week. Although the number of people infected by each carrier was small, rising from 0.7 to 0.96, and experts said that the figures show the infection is still under control, it raises fears that lockdowns may remain in place for longer or may need to be tightened again. To prevent such an eventuality, experts urged people to abide by social-distancing and to keep wearing masks.
Other countries easing the lockdown had more encouraging figures. Denmark and the Czech Republic, which also eased their lockdowns, so no surge of COVID-19 infections. South Korea, meanwhile, reported no new cases for the first time.