COVID-19: Congregational prayers restricted in capital

Maldives authorities have moved to temporarily cancel the five daily congregational prayers and the Friday prayers to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The authorities asked the residents of Male', Hulhumale' VilliMale' and those in nearby resorts to pray at home until March 28 under efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Islamic Ministry said the decision was made as the government has declared a State of Public Health Emergency, and on the advice of the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

Although congregational prayers are cancelled, the Imam will still be calling out the Islamic prayer at each prayer time, said the ministry. Any person who wishes to individually perform prayer at the mosque are free to do so, said the ministry.

The government has stepped up its efforts to prevent the further spread of the virus in the recent days. In this regard, all schools and colleges have been closed as well as private tuition classes, gyms, theatres and cinemas. Government offices will be closed from 19 to 26 March and government employees have been asked not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. Furthermore, all guesthouses on local islands have been closed and travel restrictions have been imposed on those arriving in the archipelago from severely affected countries.