Saudi Arabia has banned iftars and suhoors from being held in mosques during the month of Ramadan amid the COVID-19 pandemic, official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday.
The traditions of Islam’s holiest month Ramadan, estimated to begin on April 13 this year, are centered on group gatherings: communal taraweeh prayers, the evening meal of iftar in which Muslims break their fast together, and other religious and social events with family and friends.
People also have a meal before dawn called suhoor in which they prepare to fast for the day.
Prior to the pandemic, mosques worldwide hosted meals for worshipers to enjoy together during the holy month.
No announcements were made in regard to taraweeh prayers, however, the ministry noted that more information on rules would be provided soon, according to SPA.
Last year, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti announced taraweeh prayers were to be held at home due to the pandemic, one week before the start of the holy month. When praying in groups, Muslims line up, side-by-side, shoulders touching, also known as jamaa’a.
Saudi Arabia had seen daily infections fall to below 100 in January from a peak of more than 4,000 in June. However, infections have once again spiked to over 700 in recent days, a trend authorities blame on people not abiding with preventative measures.