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    Saudi Arabia, Jerusalem reopen mosques with strict regulations for worshippers

    AP|
    ​Mosques reopen
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    ​Mosques reopen

    Tens of thousands of mosques across Saudi Arabia reopened on Sunday for the first time in more than two months, with worshipers ordered to follow strict guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as Islam's holiest site in Mecca remained closed to the public.

    In pic: A Saudi man wearing a protective face mask performs the Al-Fajr prayer inside the Al-Rajhi Mosque, after the announcement of the easing of lockdown measures amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Riyadh.

    Reuters
    ​Jerusalem's the Al-Aqsa Mosque
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    ​Jerusalem's the Al-Aqsa Mosque

    The Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Islam's holiest site outside of Saudi Arabia, also reopened for prayers for the first time since it was closed in mid-March.

    In pic: Palestinians perform the dawn prayer (salat al-fajr) inside the al-Aqsa mosque compound, in Jerusalem's Old City, after a two-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    AFP
    ​Social distancing
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    ​Social distancing

    With little regards for social distancing, throngs waited outside the holy site's gates before it opened, with many wearing surgical masks. As they were allowed to enter, the faithful stopped to have their temperature measured.

    Reuters
    ​Worshipper wearing surgical gloves
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    ​Worshipper wearing surgical gloves

    The mosque was one of Jerusalem's many holy sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Western Wall, that were restricted to worshipers at the height of Israel's coronavirus outbreak. Throughout that period, worshipers continued to pray in the alleyways outside the mosque.

    AP
    ​Sanitization
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    ​Sanitization

    In Saudi Arabia, the government prepared for the reopening of around 90,000 mosques after sanitizing prayer rugs, washrooms and shelves holding copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book.

    AP
    ​Measures
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    ​Measures

    The Ministry of Islamic Affairs said millions of text messages were sent to people in multiple languages to inform them about the new rules for public prayer, which include keeping a two-meter (six-foot) distance between people during prayer, wearing face masks at all times and abstaining from greeting one another with handshakes or hugs.

    Children under 15 years-old were not being allowed inside mosques. The elderly and those with chronic conditions were being told to pray at home. People are also being advised to perform the mandatory ablution at home since washrooms at mosques will be closed, to use hand sanitizers and to bring their own prayer rugs and copies of the Quran.

    The restrictions call for mosques to open just 15 minutes before each of the five daily prayers and to close 10 minutes after they conclude. Friday sermons and prayers are to last no longer than 15 minutes.

    AP
    The Economic Times
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