Turkey on Thursday announced that communal prayers in mosques would resume on May 29 as the country begins easing measures against the novel coronavirus, which has claimed the lives of more than 4,400 people nationwide.
Ali Erbaş, the head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), told the Anadolu news agency that he would lead the first Friday prayer in the courtyard of Istanbul’s historic Fatih Mosque.
Erbaş said mosques with adequate courtyards or open areas were singled out with the cooperation of governors.
“Open areas and marketplaces close to mosques without a courtyard will be used [for prayers],” Erbaş said.
The return to communal prayers at mosques will be gradual, and in the first phase afternoon and Friday prayers will be allowed, he said, adding that other daily prayers would be gradually permitted in the coming weeks.
Erbaş stressed that people going to mosques have been asked to bring their personal prayer rugs with them and to wear face masks.
He added that single-use prayer rugs would also on offer.
On March 16 the country’s top religious body announced a nationwide suspension of communal prayer gatherings, including Friday prayers, in the wake of the outbreak.