04/24/2020, 09.47
MIDDLE EAST - ISLAM
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Covid-19: Easing of restrictions for Ramadan

In Dubai, cafes and restaurants reopen, reduced hours for shops and shopping centers. From 26 April public transport is back in operation. Cairo reduces curfews, but the alert remains high with the country registering the highest number of infections. In Iran, efforts are being made to restore "breathing space to the economy". A "sad" sacred month in the West Bank and Gaza.

Dubai (AsiaNews / Agencies) - From the United Arab Emirates to Egypt, several Muslim nations of the Middle East and North Africa affected by the coronavirus pandemic have loosened closures, restrictions and curfews for Ramadan, the holy month of fasting and prayer that began yesterday.

The Dubai authorities have sanctioned the reopening of cafes and restaurants; shops and shopping centers will be in operation between noon and 10 in the evening, albeit with a maximum capacity limited to 30%.

According to local authorities, public transport will start working again (including the metro) on April 26th. Moreover, the UAE is shortening the curfew imposed by two hours to limit the spread of the epidemic. From today it will be in force from 10 in the evening until 6 in the morning.

Egypt has decided to loosen the grip on its citizens, allowing the reopening of some shops and reducing the night curfew, announced Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly yesterday. This despite the fact that the country continues to experience a critical situation with the highest number of infections since the beginning of the epidemic in February. There are 232 Covid-19 cases confirmed yesterday and 11 victims; in all there are 3891 infected and 287 coronavirus deaths.

In spite of the complex situation, Cairo has decided to reduce the curfew which will begin at 9 in the evening (an hour more than in the past weeks) and ends at 6 in the morning. Instead, the decree closing the mosques and the ban on gatherings and public meetings, also for praying, remains in force; citizens are invited to observe Ramadan in their homes.

In spite of the internal struggles between those who seek the continuation of the restrictive measures and others who are pressing for their easing, the authorities in Iran have also chosen to loosen their grip to give "breathing space to the economy" as explained by President Hassan Rouhani.

The number of infections is decreasing in all provinces, in the Middle Eastern nation most affected by the new coronavirus. However, the fear of scientists is that of a second or third wave of return, with the danger of further escalation in the victims.

Nevertheless, the parks, some shopping centers and shops have been open for two days; permission has also been given for low-risk shops, even if the government continues to press for "intelligent social distancing". Travel between different provinces has also been allowed; on the employment front, at least four million are at risk of losing their jobs or suffering a sharp reduction in wages.

Algeria from today will also reduce the nightly curfew and cancel the total lockdown for a province (Blida) adjacent to the capital Algiers. However, the recommendations to the population that must continue to "be vigilant" remain and the measures "may vary according to the evolution of the epidemiological situation".

Finally, Muslims in the West Bank and Gaza Strip face a sad Ramadan "too poor to buy anything, too scared to meet." Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, gatherings, meetings and prayers group, as well as meals in families (Tarawih) are prohibited. East Jerusalem resident Ammar Bakir confirms that "there are no faithful, there are no people and the closure of the al-Aqsa mosque has a vast influence on the population". As a rule, tens of thousands of people, even hundreds of thousands in the last few days, visit the place of worship for prayer which will now be broadcast live from the mount.

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