Houses of worship in Dubai prepare to reopen with coronavirus safety measures
Dubai - Houses of worship have put in place disinfection tunnels, social-distance markers, installed hand sanitiser dispensers, and lowered the capacity of believers.
Though an official date for reopening is yet to be announced, houses of worship in Dubai have begun preparations to welcome worshippers in full swing, heads of religious institutions have told Khaleej Times.
Churches, the Hindu temple in Bur Dubai, and the Gurunanak Darbar Sikh Temple in Jebel Ali are among the religious centres that have made provisions to accept worshippers once they reopen.
Houses of worship have put in place disinfection tunnels, social-distance markers on floors, installed hand sanitiser dispensers, and lowered the capacity of believers to ensure their safety.
Limited visitors for Mass
St Mary's Catholic Church parish priest, Father Lennie Connully, said, "I am sure we are not going to be reopening with 100 per cent attendance as we used to have before the pandemic. However, we will have a restructured opening with attendance from a limited number of worshippers by following the rules of social distancing."
Fr Connully said a strict 1.5 metres distance would be maintained between believers during Mass.
The St. Mary's Catholic Church has a total capacity of 2,000 worshippers.
"However, we will limit to attendees to only 700 to 800 people per gathering.
A few worshippers can also stand in the aisles," said Fr Connully.
Online pre-registration before Mass
The number of services will probably be reduced as an online pre-registration system would be introduced at the church.
"Those who can attend will receive a message on their mobile phones and attendees must arrive at the church an hour before Mass. Temperature checks will be conducted before people enter the church," he explained.
Deep sanitisation will take place before and after Mass. Also, sanitisation tunnels will be installed at the entrances.
"The way we do the Communion would also change. Though people are eager to return to the church, we would never insist that everyone must return immediately as human lives are more valuable," said Fr Connully.
Disinfection tunnels at entrances
Chairman of Gurunanak Darbar Sikh Temple, Surender Singh Kandhari, said the Gurudwara has set up two disinfection tunnels in the entrance gates of the Gurudwara.
"We have temperature scanners, sanitisers, and people will not be allowed to sit in the prayer hall once they finish their prayers," said Kandhari.
"The Gurudwara can accommodate 1,000 people at a given time. We will reduce that to 300, and the lines will keep moving. Prasad (sweet) and langar will be served in packets," he added.
The lines will begin from the basement floor, and coolers have been installed so people do not have to wait in the heat. Floor markers have been placed for social distancing.
Extra security and special facilities for people who use wheelchairs have also been installed.
"The disinfection tunnels have ramps that can accommodate wheelchair users as well. Darshan (viewing) timings have also been tweaked from 9 am to 11 am for special events and 3 pm to 7pm for regular darshan.
Only 50 people at a time at the Hindu Temple
Raju Shroff, a board member of the Hindu Temple Bur Dubai, said, "We are trying to do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of our worshippers. Temple visiting hours will be limited from 7.30 am to 10.30 am in the mornings. Only 50 people will be allowed into the temple at a given time."
Like the Gurudwara, no seated prayers will be allowed and worshippers will have to keep moving through the temple.
Strict social-distancing norms, temperature checks, and disinfection tunnels will also be installed, said Shroff.