SINGAPORE: Even as mosques here remain closed to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, some will have small spaces opened for prayer in the afternoons to cater to congregants who need them.
From Monday to Thursday, 19 mosques across the island will provide a space for no more than 20 people at a time to perform their two afternoon prayers, wrote the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) on Facebook on Sunday (Mar 22).
Among the mosques that will open their doors to worshippers are Masjid Darul Ghufran Mosque in Tampines, Masjid An-Nahdhah in Bishan and Masjid Pusara Aman in Lim Chu Kang.
This comes after the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) first announced on Mar 12 that all 70 mosques here would close for five days for cleaning after several congregants tested positive for the coronavirus following a religious gathering in Malaysia.
It later extended the closure by another nine days, based on a recommendation by the Health Ministry (MOH), to complete “one incubation period to break the cycle of transmission" of the coronavirus.
Mosques here are due to reopen their doors to the public on Mar 27.
MUIS said in a Facebook post on Sunday (Mar 22) that the decision to open small prayer areas in some mosques is aimed at meeting the needs of worshippers such as taxi and private-hire car drivers, as well as delivery riders and riders, who had said they “face problems finding a place to pray during their work hours”.
READ: 'Mammoth task': Malaysia conducts mass COVID-19 screenings for participants of KL mosque gathering
These spaces will only be open between 1.15pm and 6pm, and those who wish to perform their prayers must bring their own prayer mats and garments.
They will also have to undertake temperature checks, health declarations and contact tracing measures.
“No congregational prayers will be conducted, and safe distancing will be maintained between each individual,” MUIS noted.
“We wish to emphasise that only a small area of the mosques will be accessible to the public, and this is strictly for the purpose of individual prayers,” the council added, noting the areas used will be “sanitised regularly”.
“We hope this small measure over the next few days will help ease the challenges faced by some members of our community who, because of the nature of their job, have difficulty finding a place to pray,” it said.
ENSURING CONGREGATIONAL PRAYERS CONDUCTED SAFELY
On Friday, MOH announced that until end-June, all events and gatherings - including weddings and religious events - with 250 or more participants attending at any one time must be suspended to reduce the risk of further local transmission of COVID-19.
Those with fewer than 250 participants must take precautionary measures such as having spaced seating at events as well as incorporating temperature and health screening measures.
In a statement, MUIS said it “understands and fully supports” such medically and scientifically grounded measures to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
"MUIS will seek guidance from the Fatwa Committee, to incorporate the additional measures while ensuring adherence to our religious requirements, to ensure that congregational prayers can be conducted safely in our mosques," it said.
Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli noted in a Facebook post that more information would be made available soon.