Morocco reopens some mosques, even as infections grow

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Moroccans wear face masks and pray respecting social distancing at the great Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. In Morocco today, around 10,000 mosques have opened their doors for the faithful to perform the Friday. For the first time since the outbreak of coronavirus in March, Morocco has allowed mosques to reopen for Friday prayers. (AP Photo / Abdeljalil Bounhar)

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Moroccans across the country performed their first weekly prayers in more than seven months as authorities eased some restrictions aimed at containing the virus pandemic.

Morocco announced the suspension of prayers in mosques back in March to limit the spread of the coronavirus, including the five daily prayers and the important Friday prayers.

The restrictions were lifted for 10,000 mosques across the country Friday, but another 40,000 remain closed because of growing new infections.

Scores of worshipers attended the Friday prayers in the Hay Riyadh mosque in the capital Rabat amid strict precautionary measures.

The prayer hall was disinfected. Worshipers had their temperature checked before entering the mosque and were asked to bring personal prayer mats and wear masks.

Entry and exit areas were indicated by signs on the ground. Bathrooms remained closed as a preventive measure. Worshippers were required to carry out their pre-prayer wash at home instead.

The sermon preceding Friday prayers focused on the importance of mosques in the lives of worshipers and discussed reasons for their closure in recent months.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs rolled out detailed precautions for worshipers, including limiting the duration of sermons to 15 minutes and closing mosques immediately after prayers.

Morocco has reported more than 170,000 virus infections since the outbreak of the pandemic and 2,878 related deaths, well above the confirmed virus figures in other countries in the region, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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