London: The London Muslim Mosque reopened after three months. As some of the restrictions are being eased out in the country. Mosques will be available to worshippers, however, they will have to follow some strict guidelines in the process.
“People are excited to come to the mosque, but we have to continue with precautions because we are still in a state of emergency and the pandemic is still worldwide,” Ali Jomaa, chair of the mosque’s board of directors, said.
Jomaa said that at 30 percent capacity, the mosque could accommodate about 110 people in its main prayer hall, 70 in a lower hall, and about 120 in its gym, but only the main prayer hall will be opened to about 75 people on Fridays.
“It’s not important for us to bring in numbers, but it is important to make sure that when we do open up, we can do it gradually and this will ensure that we are doing things in a safe way,” Jomaa said.
The mosque has been working on its reopening plans for several weeks now, but Jomaa said it is also critical that volunteers are trained fully in COVID-19 safety protocols.
A notable factor is that while mosques will reopen, worshippers will not be allowed to stand shoulder-to-shoulder while praying, to follow the social distancing norms.
In this regard, the managing committees and caretakers of mosques are busy making arrangements to meet the new set of requirements of social distancing; to check the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Moreover, carpets are also being removed in many mosques as it is believed that the invisible virus survives longer on the coverings. As a result, people are being informed to come with their own ‘janamaz’ or individual mats else they can offer prayers on the stone floor. Not only this, but mosques will also keep the toilets and ‘wazu khanas’ or ablution rooms shut as part of the precautionary measure.
Hence, people have been advised to come well-prepared before leaving their homes.
“Even though we are opening up somewhat, . . . we’re still in a state of emergency and we are going to expect people to understand,” said Jomaa.