REG 200607 Mosque-1591515001764
Worshippers perform the Friday prayers on a mosque roof in Saudi Arabia.

Cairo: Saudi religious authorities have said that prayers on roofs of mosques are banned, vowing punishment for violators, as the kingdom is battling to limit the spread of the new coronavirus.

The warning was made after images went viral online showing a group of worshippers performing the Friday prayers on the roof of a mosque in the Saudi Governorate of Al Aridhah in the region of Jizan.

“No prayer is allowed on roofs of mosques. This act is impermissible and legal procedures will be taken against whoever does this,” said Mohammad Bin Abdu, the spokesman for the Jizan branch of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Call. He added that rooftops of all mosques have been closed.

The ministry plans to reopen more mosques in Jizan, expected to reach 1,000 in the second phase, to ease crowding during the Friday prayers and as a precaution to protect worshippers from the virus, according to officials in the region.

Last week, Saudi Arabia reopened mosques except in Mecca, in line with a plan to gradually return to normal life.

Authorities have put in place a set of precautions for performing group prayers in mosques. They include opening mosques 15 minutes before the Adhan and close them 10 minutes after the end of the prayer with the interval between the Adhan and the start of the prayer shortened to 10 minutes.

Worshippers are kept apart with a distance of two metres. Children under 15 are barred from going to mosques as a preventive measure.

Toilets and ablution places are closed with a ban on the distribution of water and food inside mosques. Likewise, mosque classes and the Holy Quran memorisation gatherings are suspended.

Worshippers have their temperatures checked before they are allowed into the mosques.