Islamic world to begin Ramadan during COVID-19 pandemic

In a few days, the Islamic world will begin the Holy Month of Ramadan, which will take place for the second consecutive year amidst the extraordinary conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the growing level of knowledge and awareness of the virus, the special nature of the Holy Month requires reiterating the importance of having a sense of individual responsibility and fully adhering to the precautionary measures.

Many Arab countries are witnessing similar conditions, in light of the surge in infections despite official warnings of the seriousness of the situation, most notably the rising death rate in many countries.

In the UAE, the infection rate has significantly decreased in recent weeks, with the total number of infections on 21st March, 2021, down by 56.8 percent compared to the peak on 3rd February, 2020.

As part of the efforts to preserve the country’s achievements and contain the spread of COVID-19, the UAE adopted several precautionary measures aimed at protecting public health and ensuring prevention during the Holy Month.

These relevant measures aim to accommodate worship-related activities, including prayers, group iftar gatherings and the collection of Zakat donations, as well as social events and gatherings.

In addition, the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign has achieved its goal of vaccinating half the population over the age of 16 before the end of the current month. On Tuesday, the UAE announced that 52.46 percent of target categories have been vaccinated.

During the regular media briefing held by the UAE Government on 16th March, 2021, the National Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) announced a series of precautionary measures during the Holy Month of Ramadan aimed at protecting the country’s achievements in containing the virus and reducing infections and deaths. These measures include prohibiting family and business Iftar tents and gatherings in public areas, as well as the distribution of Iftar meals in front of houses and mosques.

NCEMA noted that those wishing to help distribute meals should coordinate with charity authorities, adding that Zakat donations should be paid electronically.

The precautionary measures also include preventing restaurants from distributing Iftar meals, limiting meal distribution to workers’ accommodation to direct coordination between restaurants and the administrations of workers’ residences, and respecting social distancing rules. Family visits should also be avoided, as well as the distribution of meals between houses and families, and only families that live together in the same house may have a group iftar inside the house.

NCEMA will allow Tarawih prayers according to relevant COVID-19 precautionary measures and preventive procedures related to prayers, but it will prohibit Iftar tables in mosques and limit Isha and Tarawih prayers to 30 minutes.

Relevant local authorities issued several decisions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus during the Holy Month, with an emphasis on the importance of respecting social distancing rules and avoiding family gatherings.

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