SINGAPORE - Singapore's Muslim faithful turned up for Friday prayers on Aug 20 at 37 mosques across the island, the first Friday that safe management measures allowed up to 1,000 fully vaccinated people to gather for worship.
The move is in line with the relaxation of rules announced by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19, which allows up to 1,000 people for congregational worship activities if all are fully vaccinated.
Bookings are also open to those who have recovered from Covid-19 and have a valid pre-event test (PET) exemption notice as well as those who have a valid negative Covid-19 PET result.
The measures kicked in from Thursday.
The 37 mosques offered between two and seven zones of 50 congregants each per prayer session, for those who have successfully completed their vaccination regime. Almost all of the 25,080 spaces for Friday prayers were booked.
There are 29 other mosques that will continue to offer one zone for prayer sessions, regardless of vaccination status.
Mr Kadir Maideen Mohamed, deputy chief executive at the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), welcomed the move to increase prayer spaces in several mosques, up from 250 people each.
"With the changes to the Covid-19 guidelines, we have opened more of our mosques for Friday prayers," he said, speaking to Berita Harian at the Darul Ghufran mosque in Tampines, before the first Friday prayers session.
He added: "This is in line with the country's vaccination efforts to ensure that more people here get vaccinated, and at the same time allow them to pray in larger groups.
"This is an important step to open more prayer spaces for our congregation."
The Darul Ghufran mosque checked congregants' vaccination status via the TraceTogether or HealthHub mobile app. It is one of five mosques offering seven zones with 1,050 spaces for Friday prayers.
This is up from 750 spaces offered by nine mosques, including Darul Ghufran, under previous guidelines on safe management measures.
Under a pilot programme in July, only 19 mosques were allowed two zones of 50 congregants each per prayer session for those who had successfully completed their vaccination or undergone Covid-19 testing.
Mr Kadir urged those in the Muslim community who have yet to be vaccinated to do so.
"As we increase the space for congregational prayers in the mosque, we also hope that the community can also support and play their role by getting vaccinated so that they can be with us at the mosque to perform congregational prayers," he said.