SINGAPORE - The Muslim community here has been urged to stay vigilant and to abide by Covid-19 safety measures during the upcoming Hari Raya Haji celebrations, to keep community transmission numbers low and prevent mosques from being closed.
Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli on Friday (July 16) noted that more than 18,000 people have successfully registered for Hari Raya Haji morning prayers across 66 mosques here.
In a Facebook post, he called on Muslims here to pray in the mosques only after successfully making an online booking for a slot and checking in with TraceTogether, and to strictly abide by safe management procedures.
"A breach of the measures, such as congregants praying outside the designated safe zones, may result in mosque closures if they fail to enforce safe distancing," said Mr Masagos, who added that people may also spread the virus unknowingly.
This point was reiterated by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) on Wednesday, when it noted that a large crowd of people praying in congregation outside Masjid Sultan in Bugis was caught on a video shared on social media.
Such a setting would make it very difficult to conduct contact tracing and take any remedial action to curb subsequent infections if transmission occurs, it said.
Besides the "clear and present danger" of Covid-19 transmission, "we also do not want to run the risk of mosques being shut down for violation of safe management procedures", Muis said in a media release.
The council stressed that congregational prayers should be done in mosques, with a valid booking. "Alternatively, one can also pray in congregation at home with family members," it said.
"Through the hard work and cooperation of the community, our mosques have managed to stay open since the circuit breaker, except for the occasional closure for cleaning," said Muis.
"We understand the community desires to return to the mosques for regular congregational prayers. However, we appeal for your patience and cooperation as the nation moves through phase three (heightened alert) and we progressively offer more places safely in our mosques."
Editor's note: The headline for this story, which has drawn some comments online, was written by our sub-editors. It reflected the point the minister was making to remind Muslims of the need to stay vigilant and safe given the Covid-19 situation.