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Worshippers gather before the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's Mecca to attend the prayers of Eid Al Fitr. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Reports on social media claiming the return of worshippers to the Holy Mosque in Mecca are “incorrect”, an official at the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, has said.

All obligatory prayers, including the Friday prayer, have been held in the Holy Mosque with the attendance of the site’s staff while observing precautions put in place by state authorities since the outbreak of the new coronavirus, spokesman for the presidency Hani Haider told Saudi television Al Ekhbariya.

“Anything new will be announced via authorised official platforms including the website of the Presidency or its social networking accounts,” he added.

The official urged the public to ignore “rumours or baseless reports”.

Earlier this week, Saudi authorities reopened 1,560 other mosques in Mecca after three-month closure as the kingdom has relaxed restrictions imposed due to COVID-19. The reopening, part of a phased plan for gradual return to normal life, was carried out amid strict health measures to stem the spread of the highly contagious ailment.

They include worshippers’ use of personal prayer rugs, keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between each other, performing the ritual ablution at home, and wearing a protective face mask. Worshippers are also advised to avoid handshakes, use apps on their smartphones to read the Holy Quran or use their personal copies of the sacred book.

On May 31, mosques reopened across Saudi Arabia, except in Mecca, for congregation prayers.