The Federation of Islamic Association in New Zealand (FIANZ) has confirmed that if and when the country moves into Alert Level 2, Eid prayers can be held at mosques and outdoors adhering to strict social distancing and gathering limit of 100 people.

“Under Alert Level 2, abiding by government’s limit on gathering to 100 only, Eid and other prayers at the mosque and outdoor can take place- but strictly adhering to the social gathering rules,” a FIANZ spokesperson told The Indian Weekender.

Muslims in New Zealand are observing the holy month of Ramadan from Saturday, April 25 for a month where Muslims fast during the day time, abstaining from food and water until the call of Adhan at dusk.

After sighting the moon on the 29th or 30th Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr by making a special congregational prayer in the morning hours of the day of Eid.

New Zealand just went through almost five weeks of Alert Level 4 lockdown and currently observing Alert Level 3, the extension or end of which will be decided on Monday, May 11. Mosques across New Zealand were hosting prayers with a limit of 100 people at a time a till a week before the lockdown and closed down the mosques and prayer services ever since the lockdown was announced in the last week of March.

Kiwi Muslims were encouraged to prayer indoors with the families and in their bubbles during the Alert levels 4 and 3.

Anticipating country moving into Alert Level 2 positively next week, FIANZ released guidelines for the mosque to practice if and when the country moves into Alert Level 2. This included hosting regular five-time prayers, Friday congregational prayers, Taraweeh in the evening during rest days of Ramadan (Until May 24) and the possibility of Eid prayers in the country.

Kiwi Muslims will observe or celebrate its biggest festival Eid-ul-Fitr at the end of Ramadan either on Sunday, May 24 or Monday, May 25 depending on the sighting of the moon.

Under Alert Level 2, religious houses can open their doors but will have to observe strict guidelines with the number of worshippers, cleanliness of the place, social distancing, no loitering etc.

The guidelines issued by FIANZ for the mosques in the country are: 

The rules under Alert Level 2 allow us to hold tarawih, Jumuah and other prayers in our mosques. But we must do so safely.

Clean the mosque

COVID-19 is spread by droplets. When an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, they may spray droplets containing the virus. These droplets quickly settle on surrounding surfaces. COVID-19 can live on plastic and stainless steel for up to about three days, less than that on other surfaces.

Visibly dirty surfaces should be cleaned first, using an anti-viral disinfectant. Before and after prayers, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as taps and door handles.

Leave doors open so people do not need to touch them when entering and leaving the mosque.

Ask people…

  • Wudu before coming to mosque
  • Bring your own prayer mat
  • Avoid hugging or shaking hands
  • Bring your own Qur’an if desired
  • Cough into your elbow
  • Leave the mosque promptly after prayers
  • Do not gather in groups on the pavement

Restrict the numbers

There can be strictly no more than 100 people in any gathering, whether inside a mosque or, like some Eid prayers, outdoors.

Note who is present

We recommend that mosque managements arrange to collect basic information on those in the mosque on each occasion in case contact tracing becomes necessary.

Maintain social distancing

  • Outside, stay two metres from people you do not know
  • Inside (including when praying), stay one metre away from the people around you
  • Inside or out, take extra care if you interact with people you don’t know as it won’t be easy to do contact tracing if necessary

Ask at-risk people to stay home

Some people are at higher risk of COVID-19. They should not attend the mosque during this period.

  • Anyone over 70, regardless of their health
  • Other older people with underlying health issues, especially respiratory conditions
  • People of any age with underlying medical conditions that include:
  • serious respiratory disease such as chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • serious heart conditions
  • immunocompromised conditions (cancer treatment, prolonged use of corticosteroids etc)
  • severe obesity (BMI over 40)
  • diabetes
  • chronic kidney disease
  • people undergoing dialysis
  • liver disease.