Dyaning Pangestika, Jakarta – Istiqlal Mosque in Central Jakarta will refrain from holding congregational prayers for the upcoming Idul Adha (Day of Sacrifice) this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi has said.
In a statement on Thursday, the minister said the decision was made because around ten thousand people would be expected to attend the prayers in the country's biggest mosque, which would make it difficult to implement health protocols.
"For example, it will take a long time to check the attendants' temperature because there will be ten thousand of them. It will not be an easy task despite efforts to limit access at the entrance," Fachrul said in the statement.
The Religious Affairs Ministry previously issued a circular to ban the public celebration of Idul Adha in areas considered "unsafe from COVID-19" by the authorities.
The letter stipulates procedures for Idul Adha prayers in "safe zones" to contain any potential virus spread, including sterilizing locations, implementing physical distancing among the congregation and shortening the prayers' duration. People participating in the mass prayers also have to ensure they are healthy and are required to wear face masks and bring their own prayer mats.
The ministry's circular also stipulates provisions for qurban (animal sacrifice) events, which require spectators to keep a distance from each other and for butchers to refrain from touching their faces during the event to avoid potential virus transmission.
Muhammadiyah, the country's second-largest Muslim group, has also advised its members and Muslims in general to take part in Idul Adha mass prayers with their own families or in small congregations, while adhering to strict COVID-19 health protocols.
The Religious Affairs Ministry will hold an isbat (confirmation) meeting on July 21 to determine the exact date for Idul Adha, which is expected to fall on July 31.