Cairo: Muslims performed their first Friday prayers in mosques across Saudi Arabia in more than two months following the suspension of congregational prayers to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. However, prayers at mosques across Jeddah city have once again been temporarily interrupted.
Nearly 100,000 worshippers attended the Friday prayers in the Prophet Mosque in Medina, a state body in charge of the holy site’s affairs said on its official Twitter account.
On Sunday, Saudi authorities reopened all mosques for prayers, except in the city of Mecca as part of the kingdom’s plan for a gradual return to normal life.
On Friday, worshippers flocked to mosques across Saudi Arabia amid strict health measures. Each worshipper had his own rug and observed designated distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has agreed that nearly 4,000 additional mosques be venues for the Friday prayers in different parts of the kingdom until further notice so as to ease crowding during the prayers.
Minister of Islamic Affairs and Call Shaikh Abdul Latif Bin Abdul Aziz instructed that this week’s sermon that precedes the Friday prayers focus on precautionary measures to contain the COVID-19.
The ministry has 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 while 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.