Taraweeh prayers will be allowed in Ramadan for the first time in two years
Ramadan is expected to begin on 2 April and for the first time in three years will be celebrated by Egyptians without the heavy shadow cast by strict protective measures against Covid-19.
“Anti-coronavirus restrictions which have been in place since 2020 will be completely lifted,” said Minister of Waqf [religious endowments] Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa.
“During Ramadan, we will open 64 new mosques to accommodate the increasing number of worshippers at this time of year.” Gomaa added that mosques will be sanitised in order to receive citizens and hold prayers in a secure atmosphere.
Though night prayers (Taraweeh) will be allowed during Ramadan for the first time in two years, the ministry has stipulated that they must not exceed half an hour, should be held directly after evening prayers (Ishaa), and precautionary measures such as social distancing and mask wearing must be observed.
Friday prayers will continue as usual, with a limit of 20 minutes placed on the Friday sermon.
Gomaa also confirmed that female prayer halls in mosques will be re-opened during Ramadan 2022, ending a ban in place since 2020, and that religious lessons can once again be held following afternoon prayers provided that they are delivered by moderate clerics. “We will never allow mosques to be turned into fertile ground for extremist thoughts,” he said.
Gomaa cautioned, however, that bans on late-night Tahajjud prayers and on Itikaf (mosque retreats during the last 10 days of Ramadan) will remain in place for the third consecutive year.
Cabinet Spokesperson Nader Saad revealed that charity Iftar banquets — Mawaed El-Rahman (Tables of the Merciful) — will be back for the first time in two years. Such banquets offer hot meals free of charge to poor people so they may break their fast. Celebrations will also be allowed in closed venues in hotels with some precautions and, with most anti-coronavirus protective measures eased or removed for Ramadan, coffee shops and restaurants will be able to remain open until 2am from 1 April.
Acting Health Minister and Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar said Covid-19 infections had declined over the past five weeks from 2,000 to less than 700 a day.
Abdel-Ghaffar added that almost 33 million people have been fully vaccinated against the virus, with 76.5 million doses of vaccine and just under two million booster shots administered.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 31 March, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.