The Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia
The Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. Last Ramadan, authorities allowed only the distribution of iftar meals to worshippers in the mosque. This year’s Ramadan is expected to start on April 2. Image Credit: Twitter/ Courtesy: @wmngovsa

Cairo: Saudi authorities in charge of the Prophet Mosque in Medina have said that the iftar banquets, traditionally hosted in the holy site in the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, will be allowed again after a two-year suspension due to COVID-19, a local newspaper has reported.

The authorised hosts of the banquets are required to meet certain conditions. They include restricting the numbers of according to the pandemic situation, contracting an accredited catering firm, hosting five persons on a single carpet in case of enforcing physical distancing and 12 persons in case of non-distancing, according to Okaz.

Other requirements include sitting at the banquet in one row in the direction of the Qibla, i.e. the direction of Kaaba in Mecca that Muslims face in their prayers, and the service provider’s need to update data starting from the upcoming Islamic lunar month of Rajab, i.e. two months before Ramadan.

The annual iftar banquets in the Prophet Mosque were suspended in 2020 as part of precautions against COVID-19.

Last Ramadan, authorities allowed only the distribution of iftar meals to worshippers in the mosque. This year’s Ramadan is expected to start on April 2.

Last October, the Grand Mosque that houses the Holy Kaaba in Mecca and the Prophet Mosque returned to operate at full capacity.

However, last month, physical distancing was re-enforced in both places after it was cancelled as the kingdom saw a surge in the virus infections.