As Lockdown Eases, UK Mosques Plan Phased Reopening05 Jun 2020
With the coronavirus-related lockdowns easing in England, officials are planning for ways to reopen public spaces including mosques and other places of worship, while still adhering to safety precautions related to prevent further spread of the virus.
Recently, British Muslim bodies such as the Muslim Council of Britain, have issued guidance for the phased opening of mosques. This guidance, which has been compiled with the input of mosques and Islamic institutions across the country, be already being implemented in the Manchester area ahead of the reopening.
Public spaces will be allowed to open from the first week of July so long as they can comply with the social distancing rules
According to the latest report on COVID-19 released by the Government, places of worship, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, hotels and cinemas can start reopening at the end of the first week of July so long as they are able to meet social distancing rules.
With this in mind, Neighbourhoods Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar said Mosques in Greater Manchester are already implementing a series of steps to allow worshippers to return to the mosque. The steps implemented are in line with the recommendations given by the MCB which, in turn, is in line with the recommendations given by the Government.
These steps consist of:
- The allocation of a Covid Safety Officer to engage with community members, scholars Imams, volunteers and staff;
- Assessing risks in the buildings, entries and exists to make sure they can cope with emergencies and have disability access;
- Mosques estimating a ‘new capacity’ based on keeping people two metres apart during prayers while ensuring that people will bring their own prayer mats;
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) being worn on premises and shoe racks no longer being used, with worshippers putting their shoes in bags and keeping them nearby;
- Training volunteers and staff who will be present during each prayer, ensuring compliance and dispersing crowds;
- Keeping open communication with the wider community, including non-Muslims.
It is estimated that this will somewhat diminish congregation sizes. It has been suggested that Friday prayers may be held several times in smaller groups to ensure that overcrowding does not occur on Fridays. Meanwhile, people will still be asked to perform wudu at home.
The announcement comes as other countries around the world are starting to reopen mosques
The announcement comes as mosques around the world see also reopening. Last week saw mosques in Saudi Arabia – except for the Grand Mosque in Mecca – as well as al-Quds Mosque in Jerusalem reopen to worshippers for the first time in months. Countries such as Tunisia, which very low infection rates, also started reopening their mosques.
All these, however, will depend on whether a second wave can be averted. Despite attempts to reopen the UK, the country retains some of the highest death and infection rates in the world and the highest in Europe.