Oman's new Covid rules for Ramadan include ban on iftar mass gatherings

Congregational taraweeh prayers will only be allowed for the fully vaccinated

Omani Muslims wearing masks and maintaining social distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19, perform afternoon prayers on the third day of the holy month of Ramadan at the Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq Mosque in the capital Muscat, on April 16, 2021. (Photo by MOHAMMED MAHJOUB / AFP)
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Oman has announced a new set of restrictions for congregational prayers and communal meals during Ramadan.

The rules come after the number of daily Covid-19 cases dwindled in the sultanate, following a spike earlier in 2022.

This year, Oman announced that taraweeh will be open in mosques to just fully vaccinated people. Others, including children, will not be allowed.

“Bringing children under the age of 12 to taraweeh prayers poses a danger to them and their families,” Minister of Health Dr Ahmed Al Saeedi said in a press conference on Wednesday.

Mr Al Saeedi also said Oman hopes to make vaccines for children available “in the first half” of this year.

In Ramadan, mass taraweeh prayers are performed after the nightly prayer and can last an hour.

Mass gatherings for iftar and suhoor meals will again be prohibited, including the free charity Iftar Sa'im gatherings, which are usually held in public for those in need.

“Charity teams and private establishments concerned, including civil society institutions, may distribute the meals to target beneficiaries, but without organising gatherings,” state news agency ONA reported.

Masks and social distancing will continue to be required in indoor areas as wedding and conference halls remain limited to 70 per cent capacity.

Omani authorities have regularly encouraged people to receive their second and third shots of the Covid-19 vaccine. The majority, about 96 per cent, admitted to Intensive Care Units in the sultanate were either unvaccinated or had received only one dose, Mr Al Saeedi said on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, only 10 per cent of Omani nationals in the targeted groups have taken their booster shots.”

Only the first and second Covid-19 shots are mandatory so far.

Mr Al Saeedi urged the public to avoid spreading rumours about the vaccines' safety. He said authorities had not registered any “serious side effects” in people who have received their first and second doses.

On Tuesday, Oman's Ministry of Health announced 69 new cases and zero deaths as cases stood largely in the double-digits, marking a large decline since their peak in February.

Last Ramadan, an overnight lockdown was imposed in Oman, limiting movement from 9pm to 4am every day.

Oman has so far approved the use of 11 iterations of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Updated: March 31, 2022, 10:23 AM