In response to the public health threats posed by the rapid spread of the coronavirus, Egypt’s two biggest religious institutions are suspending all religious gatherings and congregations.
Earlier today, Egypt’s Ministry of Awqaf (Endowment) issued a moratorium on group prayers and Friday prayers at mosques across the country, however the government agency didn’t specify the duration of this temporary suspension.
This comes after Al Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed Al Tayeb’s decision to suspend prayers at the institution’s downtown Cairo mosque for two weeks, Egypt Today reports.
Similarly, Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church released a statement saying it was halting masses and shutting down its churches for two weeks. The church has also banned visits to monasteries, according to the statement, adding that one church will handle funeral rites for each parish and that attendance will be restricted to the family of the deceased, Reuters reports.
On Friday, Egypt’s Coptic Catholic Church also issued a decision to halt masses indefinitely, but clarified that its churches across the country will continue to receive individual worshippers.
These measures are in line with the government’s newly issued public health and safety regulations which ban large gatherings and require restaurants, retail stores, cafes, cafeterias, night clubs, amusement parks, casinos and shopping centers to shut their doors from 7PM until 6AM everyday until 31 March 2020.
This comes as the number of coronavirus cases reaches 285, with eight recorder fatalities, according to the latest report by the Ministry of Health.