Prayers cancelled at mosque and churches due to COVID-19 outbreak

FRIDAY prayers have been cancelled at the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking for the first time in its 131-year history because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The move followed a joint letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York asking churches to put public worship on hold. Catholic churches were expected to follow similar measures after advising priests last week to introduce various safety measures.

Friday prayers have been cancelled at Woking’s Shah Jahan Mosque as a social distancing measure

The Islamic School at the mosque, held every afternoon, has been closed temporarily. Around 1,500 people attend the weekly prayer sessions at the mosque while around 200 children attend the school.

The mosque had previously asked congregation members aged 60 and above to consider staying away and those with any pre-existing health conditions to avoid attending during busy periods.

Muhammad Habib, the mosque manager, said the mosque management has decided to close the buildings in light of Government advice.

“We are not having any school visits or funeral prayers and we have been carrying out a deep clean every day,” Mr Habib said.

The Rev Jonathan Thomas, the Woking area dean, said that while churches would be closed for public worship on Sundays, buildings would be kept open for private prayer.

The Rev Thomas said that the churches would lose Sunday collections, but many people gave by direct debit or in other ways.

“We will also lose weddings, funerals and baptisms,” he said.

The Rev Thomas said that online services could be arranged, which could help those who were unable to go to churches, including those in care homes.

“Our message is that we are here for people and will be looking at ways of supporting isolated people.”

For the full story get today’s (19 March) edition of the News & Mail

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