Saudi Arabia mosque prayer
In this file picture, Muslims perform Fajr prayers inside the Al Rajhi Mosque while practicing social distancing. Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: Saudi Arabia has said that the Eid Al Adha prayers will be performed inside mosques, excluding outdoor places in an effort to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs and Call Abdulatif Bin Abdulaziz Al Sheikh has directed the ministry’s branches across the kingdom to limit the congregational Eid prayers to big mosques and additional prepared mosques only, the Saudi news agency SPA has reported.

The prayers, offered on the morning of the first day of the holy occasion, will not be allowed in open prayer sites “in view of exceptional circumstances”, the agency said.

The minister has issued a circular to the ministry’s branches, stressing the importance of preparing mosques across the kingdom to receive worshippers to offer the Eid prayers, it added.

The four-day Eid Al Adha or the Feast of Sacrifice is expected to begin this year on July 31.

On May 31, Saudi authorities reopened mosques across the country, except in the holy city of Mecca, for group prayers as part of a phased plan for gradual return to normal. The Mecca mosques reopened on June 21.

Strict health measures are in place in Saudi mosques to stem the spread of COVID-19.

They include the 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.