Ministry of Religious Endowments (Awqaf) Mokhtar Gomaa (Photo: Al-Ahram)
Egypt is allowing the holding of funeral prayers in mosques' open-air courtyards nationwide starting Monday under strict safety measures, six months after the shutdown of funeral services in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic, Religious Endowments Minister Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa said in a statement.
Gomaa said that the safety measures, which were approved by the coronavirus management committee at the cabinet, include limiting funeral prayers to no more than 15 minutes.
All participants in funeral prayers are required to wear facemasks and adhere to social distancing, Gomaa said.
Washing rooms will be closed to participants.
If the funeral prayer is held in a mosque’s open-air courtyard, a plastic cloth must be placed under the deceased’s coffin.
The funeral prayer can also be held at graveyards or any open courtyard if nearby mosques do not have an open-air space.
Gomaa said that the decision to resume funeral prayers will be under “continuous assessment” to monitor citizens’ commitment to preventive measures.
The return of the prayers comes nearly a week after Egypt eased more lockdown measures, including allowing open-air weddings starting 21 September.
Worshippers returned to Egypt’s major mosques for Friday prayers on 28 August for the first time since the pandemic started.
Egypt has moved towards a gradual reopening of its economy since late June, lifting some of its anti-virus restrictions, including lifting a nighttime curfew, reopening restaurants and places of worship, and resuming regular international flights as part of a plan to coexist with the virus.
Authorities have said that lockdown measures would be reviewed periodically before they decide to gradually relax them further, warning that "strict measures" would be imposed if citizens failed to adhere to the rules.
Egypt has repeatedly urged caution to avoid a second wave of the pandemic, particularly with the advent of autumn.
Egypt currently has an infection tally of 102,015 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 5,770 deaths since the first case was discovered on 14 February.