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As mosques reopen, Imams older than 58 won’t be allowed to lead prayers as part of new rules

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NAIROBI—As the country opens up following months of lockdowns and cessation of movement due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Muslims and other faith groups are finally allowed to congregate once more as part of phased reopening of places of worship.

On Monday, President Uhuru Kenyatta said that congregants above the age of 58 years and below 13 years should not attend in-person services.

“Persons with underlying conditions are also not advised to congregate,” he said during his address to the nation from the State House.

On Tuesday, the interfaith council appointed by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi and Health CS Mutahi Kagwe has recommended that places of worship re-open on July 14.

The reopening will be in four phases, with the first one commencing next week.

Muslim leaders and mosque imams have agreed to adhere to strict guidelines on the reopening of the mosques that gives prominence to hygiene and safety, a move that severely disrupt the standard manner of conducting prayers.

“The main objective of this Guideline is not to restrict religious freedom, but to provide recommendations to Masaajid and encourage safe environments during these extraordinary times, for the wellbeing of every one of us,” a statement seen by Kulan Post said in part.

Below are guidelines on the reopening of mosques in the wake of Covid-19.

  1. On the Mosques Infrastructure

(a) Outside the Mosque

  1. The Mosque environment should be clean at all time
  2. Clean water and soap and or sanitizers should be placed outside the Mosque
  3. Worshippers shall have their temperatures taken at the entrance before entering the mosque.

(b) Inside the Mosque

  1. Mosque committees shall ensure that carpets/mats are regularly cleaned to mitigate the risk of spreading Covid-19, this includes removal of carpets where applicable.
  2. Every Mosque committee will take measures to ensure that all items (e.g. Mas’haf (Qur’an) and fixtures within the Mosque are not used in a manner that will further the transmission of Covid-19. (It is recommended for the worshippers to come with their own Musalla/mat.
  3. Mosque floors and courtyards will be fumigated at least once a week or as frequently as possible. If a mosque has an open area/veranda it is preferable to conduct prayers there.
  4. Mosque committee will ensure that there is a gap of 1.5 metres radius between two persons, and it will be clearly marked to guide the worshipers on physical distance.
  5. The Mosque management shall ensure no gathering in the mosque outside prayer session.
  6. Windows and doors will be opened during prayers to ensure air circulation
  7. All sorts of distribution, including food, water or anything else, is strictly prohibited in and around the Mosque.
  8. Toilets and ablution areas should remain closed.
  9. On the Congregants (Worshippers)
  10. All worshipers should be screened for temperatures and other symptoms before entering the Mosque.
  11. All worshipers will wash their hands with clean water and soap or a sanitizer before entering the Mosque
  12. Face masks must be worn all the time.
  13. Those who are in contact with Covid-19 patients or are under investigations vis-à-vis Covid-19 should not enter the Mosque to ensure safety of other worshippers.
  14. Those who are suffering from chronic illness (such as diabetic, cancer) or whose immunity is weak particularly the elderly and or young children should not come to the Mosque for their own wellbeing.
  15. Each Mosque will have their own sub-committee (for self-regulatory), and to ensure that all the worshipers adhere to the laid down guidelines and to liaise with the sub-county Compliance committee.
  16. The Mosque committee/Imam shall constantly sensitize worshippers on these guidelines.
  17. The National Muslim Covid-19 Response Committee shall be responsible for the liaison, coordination and follow-up of the guidelines and conditions set forth. The guidelines shall be reviewed from time to time as the country continues to monitor the situation.

The guideline was signed by the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, the Deputy Chief Kadhi, National Muslim Covid-19 Response Committee, the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya and the Jamia Mosque, Nairobi.

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