WATERLOO CHRONICLE | Waterloo Region mosques allowed to reopen Friday
Waterloo Region mosques allowed to reopen Friday
First time in three months prayer services allowed at Waterloo Region mosques
Imam Abdul Mannan Syed stands next to the Waterloo Masjid in this file photo. – Mathew McCarthy
WATERLOO REGION — Muslims in Waterloo Region will be allowed to return to mosques for prayer on Friday for the first time in three months.
Asif Manzoor, head of the Kitchener Waterloo chapter of the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), said mosques in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge are set to resume daily prayers, Friday prayer services and other services under strict provincial health guidelines.
Local mosques were closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Churches and other religious buildings across Ontario will also be allowed to open at reduced capacity.
“It’s an exciting time, but with a cautionary start to balance our duty to serve with our duty to protect,” Manzoor said on Thursday.
MAC has instituted a list of precautionary steps to protect individuals during prayer on top of the province limiting attendance to 30 per cent of a building’s capacity:
- Individuals will be asked to preregister for space to not only secure a spot, but to make it easier to contact people should someone who attended a prayer service be diagnosed with the virus, Manzoor said.
- They will be required to bring their own prayer mats, and face masks are also encouraged. The mosque will provide hand sanitizer and the rooms will be sanitized after each prayer.
- Clear plastic bags will be provided for individuals to put their shoes in during prayer.
- Anyone over 70 years old is being asked to not attend since they are more vulnerable to COVID-19, and young children will also not be permitted to make it easier to control social distancing procedures.
- Prayer time will be limited to about 10 minutes, and social interaction before or after will also be limited to help prevent the spread of any illness.
MAC had submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development of Ontario that included best practices for the safe reopening of mosques across Ontario. The organization operates 11 mosques in Ontario, including three in Waterloo Region.
Manzoor said he’s in constant communication with mosques in other communities and they’ll be sharing tips on what worked and what didn’t as the lockdown eases.
“We’ll try it out and roll things out slowly and we’ll see how things go,” he said.
James Jackson is a Waterloo Region-based reporter focusing on business and technology for the Record. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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