The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority and the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments have announced that it will temporarily suspend prayers in all places of worship across the nation until further notice out of concern for public safety.
The said decision, which has been made in coordination with federal and local health and religious authorities, including the UAE Fatwa Council and Ministry of Health and Prevention, comes within the framework of the precautionary measures adopted by the UAE to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19.
UAE Suspends Prayers in Public Places of Worship for Four Weeks
Following the announcement, authorities called on Emiratis and residents to comply with the directive to protect themselves and others, as shared in a report by WAM.
Before the announcement, several churches in the UAE had had already moved to temporarily close their worship places and suspend church services starting March 12 to curb the spread of Covid-19.
In notices shared to worshippers, St Andrew’s Church in Abu Dhabi and St Michael’s Church in Sharjah said last week that all group services and activities were postponed until further notice.
A notice signed by Edwin Maria Arasu, director of His Highness Special Projects at the Sharjah Ruler’s office, was forwarded to all 10 churches in the emirate urging them to suspend all group services.
For his part, Rev Canon Andy Thompson, senior chaplain at St Andrew’s Church, said its decision to close completely was voluntary, in support of the UAE government’s efforts to contain the outbreak.
As early as March 3, Muslims in the UAE were told not to attend prayers in mosques if they were unwell or had a compromised immunity.
According to a fatwa issued by the country’s Fatwa Council then, anyone at risk of potentially contracting coronavirus — including senior citizens, anyone suffering from respiratory disease and people who have a weakened immune system — should avoid going to mosques and pray at home instead.
The fatwa noted, “Anyone who suffers from or is suspected to have this disease is forbidden by the Sharia to be in public places, or to go to the mosque to attend congregational prayers, Friday, or Eid.”
Meanwhile, several public places have already been closed across the Emirates during the past few days. These have ranged from tourist attractions to beaches and cinemas in Abu Dhabi.
Accordingly, Dubai has also closed theme parks, cinemas, and gyms. Public parks in the city will also remain closed until further notice as per the Dubai Municipality.
Also, as part of the government’s bid to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Dubai, customers and employees with flu symptoms will not be allowed into restaurants, as per a new set of guidelines issued by the Dubai Municipality.
The UAE has recorded 98 cases of the virus, the first of which was confirmed in a family of four traveling from Wuhan on January 29.
Since the outbreak in the country, a total of 26 patients have made full recoveries after receiving treatment in the Emirates.