All three mosques in the city of Mechelen, located between Antwerp and Brussels, have decided to temporarily close their doors after multiple visitors tested positive for the coronavirus.
In two weeks, the situation will be discussed with the city council to determine whether it is safe to re-open the Mosque of Mechelen, the Al Buraq Mosque and the Al Ikhlaas Mosque to the public.
The mosque leaders decided to shut down in an attempt to limit the number of infections after several members of their congregation tested positive for Covid-19.
“We are not sure whether these people were at the mosque recently, but we do know that they visit the mosque often,” member of the city council Raffi Hamid (CD&V) said. “To limit the number of infections, we made the joint decision to close the mosques for two weeks. For now, everyone can pray at home," he added.
If the infection rates see no significant increase, the mosques will be able to re-open in a fortnight, following the city council evaluation.
The mosques are the first houses of prayer in Mechelen to close their doors amidst a rise of Covid-19 infections.
At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, many Belgian mosques took steps to limit the spread of the virus by asking the elderly and people who felt ill to stay home for prayer. The traditional way of greeting, which can include embraces and kisses placed on the cheek, was discouraged due to the risk of infection that close contact can pose.
Following the safety measures, mosques started to open again on 8 June.
Maïthe Chini & Amée Zoutberg
The Brussels Times