Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque reopens after more than two months

Source:Reuters Published: 2020/5/31 18:48:40

Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque reopened to worshippers on Sunday after a two-and-a-half month coronavirus closure, but Muslim authorities imposed some precautions as health officials warn of an uptick in local infections.

A man sells spices in his reopened shop amid COVID-19 pandemic in Jerusalem's Old City on May 15. Photo: Xinhua

The resumption of prayers at Islam's third-holiest site caps a sombre period for Jerusalem's Muslims, who this year marked the holy fasting month of Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr holiday without their usual daily visits to Al-Aqsa and the adjoining Dome of the Rock.

"After they opened the mosque, I feel like I can breathe again. Thanks be to God," Jerusalem resident Umm Hisham said through a face mask, her eyes tearing up, after entering the compound for dawn prayers with hundreds of other Muslims.

The Council of Islamic Waqf cited the slowed local spread of COVID-19 in lifting entry restrictions and reopening the compound's iconic shrines, which shut on March 15.

But the council imposed some measures to reduce the risk of contagion, as new cases in Israel spiked in recent days.

Worshippers must wear face masks and bring personal prayer rugs should they wish to pray inside the shrines or on the compound's outdoor grounds. There did not appear to be a limit on the number of people allowed into the 14-hectare compound, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount.  Around 700 worshippers were present for dawn prayers.
Newspaper headline: Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem reopens

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