LONDON – Over 90,000 mosques across the oil-rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia have reopened for the first time in more than two months to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Islam’s holiest site in Mecca remains closed to the public as the authorities have ordered worshipers to abide by strict guidelines and social distancing rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance has drafted an awareness-raising campaign on precautionary and health measures in different languages, including performing ablution at homes, washing hands thoroughly and using sanitizers.
The ministry urged the elderly, those who suffer from chronic diseases and children under 15 not to attend mosques.
The new measures come as Saudi Arabia and other countries around the world begin to loosen restrictions following weeks of curfews and lockdowns.
Saudi minister of Islamic affairs Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh completed Friday field trips to check on necessary preparations for the opening of the mosques
“Whatever remains falls upon citizens. I hope that citizens and residents follow healthy precautionary measures as instructed by professionals. I hope that they’re careful with their own lives and the lives of others,” said Asheikh.
Also Sunday, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem that had been closed since mid-March reopened for prayers. Worshipers waited outside the gates, many wearing surgical masks. As they entered, they were stopped to have their temperature taken.