Malaysia to allow some mosques to reopen for Friday prayers – dpa international


Reading Islamic verse at the national mosque in Kuala Lumpur in 2016 (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysian authorities will allow 88 mosques to hold Islamic Friday prayers this week in a relaxation of curbs imposed on places of worship due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Up to 30 people will be allowed enter the mosques to pray as long as they “observe social distancing, practice sanitizing and get details [of those who enter] for record purposes,” said Zulkifli Mohamad, Malaysia’s Minister for Islamic Affairs.

The reopening of some mosques comes ahead of the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, scheduled for May 24. Around 60 per cent of Malaysia’s 32 million residents are Muslim.

A strictly policed lockdown was imposed in Malaysia on March 18 following a spike in cases of the novel coronavirus.

Most of those cases were linked to an Islamic ceremony held in Kuala Lumpur’s outskirts in late February.

On May 4 the government lifted some restrictions after new cases dropped to around 50 a day. Many businesses were allowed to reopen, but a ban on large gatherings remains in place.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Health announced 40 new coronavirus cases. Of Malaysia’s 6,819 total recorded cases, nearly 80 per cent are now listed as recovered. The country has tallied 112 virus-related deaths.

Separately, police said on Friday that Minister Zulkifli had been reported for allegedly breaching social distancing rules in meetings held in his office during the lockdown.

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