Coronavirus: Malaysian govt to meet religious leaders to discuss reopening places of worship

The government might consider easing restrictions for religious activities at places of worship. PHOTO: AFP

PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's National Unity Ministry will meet with leaders of major religions to discuss suggestions for them to resume activities, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Tuesday (May 19).

The government have received appeals on the matter, he said, and might consider easing restrictions for religious activities at places of worship.

This followed the government's okay last week to allow small numbers of Muslims to perform Friday prayers at selected mosques if they abide by healthcare procedures such as physical distancing.

Datuk Seri Ismail said a special Cabinet meeting had looked into the proposal by the National Unity Ministry but did not come to an agreement on the issue.

"The matter had been presented to the committee and was discussed. There are certain issues that need to be looked into in detail.

"The minister will meet with religious leaders again with counter-proposals from the meeting. If everything can be agreed upon, then we will announce it, " he said at his daily Covid-19 security briefing.

Malaysia on Tuesday reported 37 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the national cumulative total to 6,978, said the Health Ministry's director-general, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. The country reported one new death to raise the total death toll to 114.

On another matter, Mr Ismail said the committee has agreed to the Youth and Sports Ministry's application to allow training to be held for athletes involved in the "Road to Tokyo" Olympics and Paralympics programme.

The special permission is given to 265 individuals including 57 athletes and training will start from June 1 till 30.

Mr Ismail said three training centres have been identified and all those involved will have to comply with strict healthcare procedures.

"Upon arrival, they will have to undergo a swab test and only those who are negative can participate in the training. Once they are inside the training centres, they will not be allowed to leave until the end of the training session.

"And before they leave the training centres, they will have to do a swab test again to ensure they are cleared and will not infect those at home, " he said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.