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Combating coronavirus: Safety measures revealed for non-Muslim places of worship in UAE

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai Filed on July 3, 2020 | Last updated on July 3, 2020 at 06.45 am
Combating, covid-19, coronavirus, Safety measures, revealed, non-Muslim, places of worship, UAE

(Photo by Shihab/Khaleej Times)

In Dubai, several places of worship were awaiting final confirmation from the CDA to reopen.

Non-Muslim places of worship, licensed with the Community Development Authority (CDA) in Dubai, will reopen after the compilation of procedures and precautionary measures, the authority announced on Thursday.

"The reopening procedures involves developing appropriate solutions for the cultures and customs of each religion, and free Covid-19 test for workers in places of worship in cooperation with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA)," said Dr Omar Al Muthanna, CEO, licensing and monitoring sector.

Directed by the CDA, the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) in Dubai and the DHA are working to ensure a safe return to religious rituals.

The authority has prepared a list of general guidelines and precautionary measures that worship houses should follow in preparation for the reopening. These include scheduling prayers on specific timing, physical distancing procedures, and comprehensive sterilisation to be done by centres accredited by the Dubai Municipality.

Furthermore, most places of worship including churches, the temple, and the GuruNanak Darbar in Jebel Ali are yet to open as they were awaiting these instructions from the CDA. Heads of these houses of worship have told Khaleej Times that they are now ready to re-open.

All worship places to open soon

In Dubai, several places of worship were awaiting final confirmation from the CDA to reopen.

Lalit Karani, the head of the Krishna Temple in Bur Dubai, said the temple has decided to take an extra day to ensure all arrangements to welcome worshippers are in place."We will have to greatly reduce the number of worshippers who can access the temple in the opening hours - 7am to 7.30am and 6.30pm to 7pm."

Karani said the most difficult part would be to limit the crowd and accommodate only on first-come-first serve basis. "We will divide the worshippers into queues and see they stay at a distance. We will have volunteers who will ensure that no one sits in the hall or any area of the temple. A worshiper will just get about a minute to be inside the temple, do his prayers and leave within a minute or so," he said.

Karani said there will be only two time slots for visitors to come to the temple. Apart from temperature checks and thermal scanners placed at the entrance of the temple, santisers will be placed at the entrance and exit of the temple.

The GuruNanak Darbar in Jebel Ali will officially welcome worshippers on Saturday - from 9 am to 9.30 am and from 6 pm to 6.30 pm - Saturday to Thursdays, revealed chairman of the Gurudwara Surendar Singh Kandhari.

All Clergy tested for COVID-19

The clergy of all places of worship, licensed with the Community Development Authority (CDA), have been tested for Covid-19.

"We have prepared lists of the clerics registered with CDA and we have cooperated with DHA to allocate a special day in one of the medical centers to conduct a free examination for them, to confirm their safety from the virus," said Dr Omar Al Muthanna, CEO, licensing and monitoring sector.

Devotees must remember

> Keep one row empty between every other row of worshippers
> Observe social distancing and maintain two-meter distance between one another
> Wear masks and gloves at all times
> Bring their own mats and prayer books and other prayer material
> No shake hands is allowed and it is only permitted to wave hands from a distance
> No gathering before or after prayers
> Individual prayers are not allowed after the conclusion of general prayers
> Worshippers who have been in contact with Covid-19 patients must not visit the houses of worship
> Those with chronic diseases and prone to infections must not enter the places of worship
> Children under 12 and over the age of 60 are urged not to attend the places of worship at the present time
> It is mandatory for worshippers to install AlHosn app on their smartphones
> Worshippers have to leave immediately
after prayers

Guidelines for houses of worship

> Prepare for reopening at a maximum of 30 per cent of the place of worship's normal capacity
> The staff of the place of worship will use personal transportation and will work in shifts to avoid crowding
> Reduce prayer timings to a maximum of 30 minutes with two prayers a day
> Entry and exit points of the place of worship should be two separate lines. The worshippers should practice social distancing at these points to avoid overcrowding at these places
> Ensure temperature checks at the point of entry. No one above 37.5
degrees should be allowed to enter
> The prayer must start at the agreed time
> Places of worship must close
immediately after the prayer
> Food donations or distribution within the premises of the house of worship is not allowed
> Keep doors and windows of places of worship open during the cleaning process
> All washrooms and ablution areas are to be closed 


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person, and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics, and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling, and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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