Mosques reopened on Saturday in mostly Muslim Egypt after a three-month shutdown as the country relaxes restrictions imposed to contain an outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
The government has allowed daily prayers again in mosques amid health precautions, but has kept suspended the larger Friday prayers for Muslims and Sunday Mass for the country’s Christian minority.
Egyptian media on Saturday showed images of Muslim worshippers inside local mosques, using personal prayer rugs and observing distancing as part of government-imposed measures to curb the spread of the virus.
The worshippers also wore mandatory protective face masks.
According to reopening regulations, mosques have to open their doors 10 minutes before each of the five obligatory daily Islamic prayers and close, at most, 30 minutes after the prayer ends in order to allow time for disinfection of the sites.
The Awqaf Ministry, which is in charge of mosques in Egypt, has said that religious lessons in mosques are halted as a health precaution.
The Coptic Church said Saturday that it decided to postpone for two weeks the reopening of churches in Cairo and Alexandria – Egypt’s second-biggest city – due to high virus infections.
“At the time, the situation will be reviewed,” a church spokesperson said in an online statement.
Copts make up the majority of Egypt’s Christians.
In recent weeks, Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, with nearly 100 million people, has seen a surge in virus cases.
So far, health authorities have reported 62,755 coronavirus infections resulting in 2,620 deaths.
The government has also allowed the partial reopening of businesses in an attempt to mitigate the economic impact of the virus.
As of Saturday, coffee shops and restaurants were permitted to reopen, but at 30 per cent of the usual capacity to avoid crowding.
Starting from July 1, Egypt will reopen its airports for international flights to and from the country in an attempt to prop up its vital tourism and aviation sectors, which have been hit hard by the virus outbreak.