Mosques in the UAE will reopen to worshippers for Friday prayers starting December 4, authorities announced on Tuesday.
The resumption of Friday prayers comes after they were suspended eight months ago and indicates a major step towards a return to normal religious rituals in the country.
Mosque capacity will be capped at 30 per cent and safety protocols will be in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Worshippers will also be allowed to pray in the courtyards.
“Places of worship have taken several precautions, including regular testing of all those who work in mosques. These steps will help in returning to normalcy,” said Dr Saif Al Dhaheri, spokesman for the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, during the country's weekly media briefing.
“Your co-operation will help us control the spread of Covid-19 and the reopening requires everyone to be committed.”
Volunteer groups will be asked to provide support and raise awareness in different languages among worshippers.
Mosques will have to undergo regular sanitation, stick to physical distancing measures and must have separate entry and exit points.
Water and food will not be distributed at mosques. Ablution places, toilets and women’s prayer halls will remain closed.
Dr Al Dhaheri said mosque doors will open 30 minutes before Friday prayers and close 30 minutes after the sermons. The prayers will last for 10 minutes.
All worshippers must wear face masks and bring their own prayer mats and Quran or use an app.
Worshippers have been advised to not touch any surfaces, maintain physical distancing, and perform ablution at home.
The same regulations also apply to the five daily prayers.
The elderly, children and those with chronic health problems have been asked to pray at home.
Mosques and churches in industrial areas will remain closed.
The UAE closed all places of worship in March to prevent further infections.
They slowly began to reopen in July but Friday prayers remained suspended to prevent large gatherings.
Dr Omar Al Hammadi, the official spokesman for the media briefing, said the UAE recorded 5,614 recoveries in the week between November 18 and November 24. This was a 14 per cent increase over the previous week.
He said 21 patients died in the past week, which is 0.3 per cent of the total cases reported in the country.
This was the lowest weekly death rate the Emirates has seen since the beginning of the outbreak, and is among the lowest rates worldwide.
Dr Hammadi said 791,519 tests were carried out in the past week. These tests identified 8,556 confirmed cases.
The ratio of positive cases to total tests remained at 1 per cent, which is among the lowest rates compared with European Union, other countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, and OECD nations.
On Tuesday, the UAE recorded 1,310 new infections, 683 recoveries and five deaths.
The latest cases were identified as a result of 100,011 additional tests.
The daily number of infections is the highest confirmed in the Emirates since October 29, when 1,312 cases were announced.