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MUIS to 'study the feasibility' of implementing pre-event testing for larger congregations

MUIS to 'study the feasibility' of implementing pre-event testing for larger congregations

Congregants observe safe distancing measures while attending Friday prayers at Al-Istighfar Mosque in Singapore amid the COVID-19 situation on Jun 26, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) will "study the feasibility" of implementing pre-event testing procedures at mosques, it said on Wednesday (May 5).

This comes after the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force announced on Tuesday that congregational and other worship services must implement pre-event testing for services involving more than 100 attendees and up to 250 attendees at any one time.

MUIS said it would take into account the cost and operational considerations involved to allow for larger congregational prayers, noting that congregants will likely face a longer wait to secure a slot for Friday prayer due to the reduced number of spaces.

READ: Cap of 5 people for social gatherings, household visits to return as Singapore tightens COVID-19 measures

The council said that it would "continue to monitor and make adjustments to safety measures", amid a rise in COVID-19 community cases. 

In the meantime, it will scale back the number of congregants allowed for each congregational prayer session to 100 people, with each mosque offering only up to two zones of 50 people each.

"This reduced number will be the maximum number allowed per session for daily congregational prayer, Friday prayer, as well as Hari Raya Aidilfitri prayer," said MUIS.

Spaces for female congregants will continue to be offered at some mosques, "bearing in mind the reduced space limits", it added.

READ: 6 mosques closed for deep cleaning, disinfection after visits by COVID-19 cases

The 100-person limit will also apply for the remaining tarawih and qiyam sessions in Ramadan from May 8 onwards. MUIS will retain bookings made within zone 1 and zone 2 at mosques, while existing bookings for other zones will be made void automatically.

Congregants whose bookings have been cancelled will be contacted by MUIS. They may also check the validity of their bookings online from May 7.

READ: Mandatory TraceTogether-only SafeEntry brought forward to May 17

OTHER NON-WORSHIP SERVICES AFFECTED

Classes and lectures will be temporarily suspended and shifted to online and home-based learning from May 8, said MUIS.

In-person marriage solemnisation and jenazah prayer services at mosques will be allowed to continue, but according to revised guidelines from the Ministry of Health (MOH).

With the ongoing risk of COVID-19 community transmission, MUIS has recommended the public to make Zakat payments online, though selected mosques will continue to offer services during Ramadan.

Zakat financial assistance will remain available, but with limited face-to-face engagement.

“The last few days of Ramadan are spiritually very important time for the Muslim community and we seek the support and understanding of congregants who are inconvenienced by these changes," said MUIS chief executive Esa Masood.

We seek the support and understanding of congregants visiting the mosque to continue to abide by the necessary measures and give your full support to our mosques staff and volunteers, who have been working dedicatedly to keep our mosques safe.”

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Source: CNA/nh(ta)

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