Kiwi Muslims, unfortunately, will not be able to make their Eid prayers at mosques or event centres as Alert Level 2 restricts any gathering in the country, restaurants, religious houses and at religious events or house parties to a maximum of 10.

The Federation of Islamic Association of New Zealand confirmed the news via a circular released to media and on its social media page earlier on Tuesday, May 12.

"The rules under Alert Level 2 allow us to open mosques and offer regular and tarawih prayers but ensure the gathering is not larger than 10. We must do so safely following instructions regarding maintaining social distance at all times.  

"Jumu?ah and Eid prayers are not possible at this level under current restrictions," the FIANZ circular read. 

A Kiwi Muslim family at NZ Eid Day event in 2019 at Eden Park (Photo Courtesy: New Zealand Eid Day Facebook Page)

The Indian Weekender, on Sunday, May 10 had reported that Kiwi Muslims could rejoice as Eid prayers this year was quite a possibility.

This was reported when a government circular then had put a cap to outdoor and indoor activities to 100.

With the new announcement on Monday, May 11, by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, public gatherings have been limited to 10 people only under Alert Level 2.

"This is to note that there are several mosques, and Islamic associations in New Zealand, who are independent and run by individual trusts and can plan to host Eid prayers adhering to government restrictions at different intervals of Eid day. But, this is still subject to individual mosques, associations and trusts' independent decisions which will be revealed closer to the day of Eid, (in the week of Sunday, May 24)." 

The country will move into Alert Level 2 from Thursday, May 14 in three stages where malls, retail shops, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and public places can open including playgrounds and gyms, schools and ECEs to open from Monday, May 18 and bars to operate from Thursday, May 21 next week. 

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.

Kiwi Muslims gathered at Onehunga Masjid in Onehunga, Auckland for the Friday prayers (IWK File Image)

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. But this year, there will be no Eid prayers held either at mosques or event centres.

"Whilst we appreciate that Muslims across New Zealand are understandably eager to return to their mosques for communal prayers, they should pay close attention to the FIANZ guidelines and continue to act responsibly," a FIANZ spokesperson told The Indian Weekender.

FIANZ released the circular that further provides guidelines for Kiwi Muslims to observe during Ramadan, Eid and during the time when the country will be following Alert Level 2 restrictions.

FIANZ has asked the worshippers to follow strict 10 people gathering at mosques, keep the mosques clean, and maintain social distancing (1-metre) while praying inside the mosque.

Children playing during Eid at NZ Eid Day event in 2019 at Eden Park (Photo Courtesy: New Zealand Eid Day Facebook Page)

FIANZ has asked the elderly, at-risk people and people with compromised immunity to stay home and not to attend the mosque during this period.

FIANZ has asked mosque managements around the country to collect basic information of its regular visitors on each occasion of entry so that contact tracing can be done easily, if necessary.

"We recommend that mosque managements arrange to collect basic information on those in the mosque on each occasion in case contact tracing becomes necessary," The FIANZ circular read.

Guidelines for mosques at Alert Level 2

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 10 people in any gathering, whether inside a mosque or outdoors.

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.