Coronavirus pandemic: Saudi Arabia seals 71 mosques over SOP violations

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Saudi authorities have sealed at least 71 mosques in various regions of the Kingdom after it emerged that some of them were not adhering to the COVID-19 safety guidelines, reported Gulf News.

Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr Abdul Latif Al-Sheikh attributed the closure of mosques to the lack of compliance with health precautions and preventive protocols by some of the worshipers. 

“This non-compliance resulted in the infection of the coronavirus in some mosques. Mosques have been closed as a precautionary measure are currently being sterilised,” he said.

After a hiatus of two months when congregational prayers were halted under a coronavirus-triggered lockdown, mask-clad worshipers flocked to Saudi mosques that reopened nationwide on May 31 — except in the holy city of Makkah.

Complying with stringent social distancing rules, worshipers kept a minimum of two metres apart.

They had been instructed to bring their own prayer mats and to perform the cleansing ritual, or ablution, at home instead of in mosque grounds.

Authorities have instructed mosques to avoid crowding and the distribution of food, drinks, incense and miswak twigs used to clean teeth, according to the ministry.

But some had complained that worshippers were not strictly complying with the rules.

The Kingdom will lift the lockdown entirely from June 21, Makkah aside.

In Makkah, a virus hotspot, the curfew will be lifted between 6am and 3pm until June 20, and thereafter the curfew will be shortened by a further five hours.

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