Saudi Arabia bans prayers at mosques over coronavirus fears
Move will also include weekly Friday prayers in a country that has reported more than 270 coronavirus cases.
Saudi Arabia has suspended the holding of daily prayers and the weekly Friday prayers inside and outside the walls of the two mosques in Mecca and Medina to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Earlier, on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia had suspended congregational prayers in other mosques in the country except Masjid al-Haram and Masjid an-Nabawi, in Mecca and Medina respectively.
Authorities had placed restrictions on praying inside the mosque in Mecca. On Thursday, the government suspended prayers outside the two holy mosques.
“The Presidency and the security and health authorities decided to suspend the presence and prayers in the outer squares of the Grand Mosque [Masjid al-Haram] and the Prophet’s Mosque [Masjid al-Nabawi] starting tomorrow, Friday,” the country’s official SPA news agency quoted Hani bin Hosni Haider, a spokesman for the General Presidency of Mecca’s Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, as saying.
Masjid An Nabawi gates are closed to prevent worshippers from entering as per new information released by the authorities which only authorised very few people to enter the Masjid Compound. pic.twitter.com/6Dvoi0tAUc
— 𝗛𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗻 (@HaramainInfo) March 19, 2020
Saudi Arabia recorded 36 new infections on Thursday, bringing its total to 274 with no deaths so far.
It has taken drastic measures already. In addition to closing mosques, it has halted international flights, suspended the Umrah year-round pilgrimage to Mecca, shut down schools, malls and restaurants, and asked people to stop going to work.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman said the kingdom will take measures to curb its spread and urged citizens to work together to confront the pandemic.
“We are living through a difficult period in the history of the world, but we are fully aware that it will pass despite its cruelty, bitterness and difficulty,” the 84-year-old monarch said on Thursday in a five-minute televised address.
Amid volatility in regional markets and plunging oil prices, the world’s top crude exporter has prepared a 50 billion riyal ($13bn) package to help small and medium-sized enterprises cope, and has cut its state budget by nearly five percent.