After over three months, mosques in Singapore will be open for Friday prayers from June 26 with limited capacity per session.
In Phase 2 of the reopening, places of religious congregation weren't allowed to resume services initially. Rather, the government promised a cautious approach in reopening them. But the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) issued an advisory on the resumption of religious congregation. With Friday prayers, the city-state will reopen religious places over the coming weeks.
Following the advisory, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) on June 21 announced that mosques, which were partially open in Phase 1 of reopening, will have two half-an-hour sessions on Fridays with a 30-minute gap between the two for ensuring safety and crowd management.
Online Booking System
However, for now, only 50 people will be able to offer prayers at a given point and online booking will be mandatory for daily and Friday prayers. Muis has dedicated an online booking portal where people can book their prayer slots. Without reservation, congregants will not be allowed inside.
For daily prayers, each person will have a dedicated time slot and will be limited to a maximum of 20 minutes. Sermons will also follow the same rule of 20 minutes for now. "With support from the community, mosques will now resume congregational worship with limited prayer spaces of up to 50 persons at a time in Phase 2," Muis said in the statement. "Muis will continue to adopt a cautious and phased approach to ensure the mosques remain safe, and in full compliance with national guidelines."
To ensure safety and avoid large gatherings, mosques will mark designated places for individuals with one-meter gap in between. While wearing a mask has been made mandatory, imams will also have to wear a face shield and stand at least two meters away from the first row to maintain social distancing. There will be separate entrances and exits with a single path in place in each prayer zone.
Once a session is completed, congregants will have to leave immediately and avoid socializing with others. In addition to that, using Singapore's contact tracing app TraceTogether has been encouraged. Congregants will also need to enter the mosques through SafeEntry using their national registration identification card (NRIC) or foreign identification number (FIN).
When entering the mosques for prayers, congregants will need to check in via SafeEntry using their NRIC numbers or FIN. They are also strongly encouraged to use the TraceTogether app. They have also been urged to bring their own prayer mats and perform ritual purification before coming to the mosques.
However, people aged 60 years and above and children below 12 years have been discouraged from attending Friday prayers as the age groups have been deemed susceptible in contracting COVID-19. They can instead perform the zuhur — regular noon prayers — on their own at their homes as per the Fatwa committee.
"Muis encourages worshippers to abide by these measures to proactively minimize the possible spread of COVID-19 in our mosques. We seek the support and understanding of the Muslim community to work closely with mosque officials to be socially responsible and safeguard public health as we perform our religious obligations in our mosques," it said.
For now, Masjid Abdul Ghafoor, Masjid Bencoolen, Masjid Ba'alwie and Masjid Burhani will remain closed.