DHAKA: Bangladesh on Thursday allowed Muslims to attend prayer congregations in mosques as the government eased some of the lockdown restrictions amid the coronavirus outbreak which has infected 12,425 people in the country, so far.
However, mosque leaders are not allowed to organise Iftar gatherings on the mosque premises in line with the social distancing rules, the Bdnews24.com reported.
The mosques and devotees have been asked to comply with a set of safety protocols to hold prayer congregations, the religious affairs ministry said.
Bangladesh announced a nationwide lockdown to enforce social and physical distancing norms on March 26 amid a surge in coronavirus cases and deaths.
The government subsequently restricted congregations at mosques to a maximum of five worshippers for the daily prayers, including the cleric and other officials, in an effort to bridle the escalating coronavirus crisis.
The Friday prayers were limited to 10 worshippers while only 12 devotees were allowed to participate in the Taraweeh prayers during Ramzan.
In keeping with the hygiene rules to reduce the risk of contagion, the new guidelines issued by the ministry said mosques are not allowed to use common carpets for prayers while devotees are required to carry individual prayer mats from home, the news portal reported.
Places of worship must be cleaned with disinfectants before every prayer session – five times a day.
Mosque must also install hand-washing facilities equipped with soaps or provide hand sanitisers at the entrances.
Devotees must perform their ablutions at home and wash their hands with for at least 20 seconds.
Worshippers must wear masks to the mosques while maintaining a space of at least three feet between each other when they line up for the prayers.
Children, the elderly, any sick person or those engaged in treating the sick will not be allowed to participate in congregations.
Failure to comply with these guidelines will be met with legal action, the ministry warned.
The novel coronavirus cases on Thursday crossed the 12,000 mark in Bangladesh as 706 more people tested positive in the last 24 hours, the health authorities said.
With the latest figure, the number of total confirmed cases jumped to 12,425.
The total number of deaths in the country stood at 186 till Wednesday.