190514 eid al fitr
The first day of Eid Al Fitr ultimately depends on the observation of the moon by he moonshighting committee. Image Credit: Pexels

Abu Dhabi: In a press briefing on Wednesday, UAE authorities announced that mosques and places of worship would remain closed during Eid Al Fitr, which is set to fall on Saturday or Sunday based on moon-sighting.

Dr Saif Al Dhaheri, spokesman for National Authority for Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management, said in the briefing: "The decision to adjust the times of the national sterilisation program [now from 8pm to 6am] during the Eid Al Fitr period instead of a total lockdown came after considering all the information available, especially the readiness of various sectors and businesses in the country to receive the public and keep them safe, such as shopping outlets, malls and others."

Dr Saif added: "We call on the public to abide by the restrictions during Eid and avoid gatherings or any other violations that may pose dangers to the community." He also mentioned that there are legal penalties and fines that will be taken against such violators.

There will be several changes to Eid traditions this year. Dr Saif stressed that giving away cash, called ‘Eid-iya’, to family members should be avoided this Eid. This is keeping in line with some studies that claim that virus transmission is possible through the circulation of bank notes.

Dr Saif said the instructions to refrain from distributing Eidi among children during the Eid period was a precautionary measure given that some studies have stated the possibility of coronavirus transmission through bills.

He added that the decision to open commercial centres during Eid came after ensuring the implementation of all the precautionary measures, including operating at 30 per cent capacity, maintaining physical distance, and prohibiting the entry of over 60-year-olds and under 12-year-olds.

Exercise is allowed during the Eid period from 6am until 8pm, taking into account precautionary measures such as exercising in the vicinity of the house for about an hour or two, with a maximum three individuals together while keeping a physical distance of two metres, in addition to wearing mask.

Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al Shamsi, spokesman of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments added: "As per the Emirates Fatwa Council, Eid Al Fitr prayers should be performed at home. Taking all precautionary measures to protect yourself and your family is a religious and national commitment."

There will be a TV broadcast of prayers at mosques 10 minutes before the time of Eid prayers after which everyone should pray at home, he added.

Al Shamsi said, "We remind you of the importance of showing joy and pleasure in Eid, and dealing with the current circumstances positively."

Al Shamsi added that all mosques would broadcast Eid Takbeer 10 minutes before prayer time, to spread Eid spirit and rituals.