Despite the government allowing places of worship to remain open under new lockdown restrictions, East London Mosque has chosen to close its doors for prayers due to concerns about the very high levels of COVID-19 locally.
East London Mosque’s decision is effective from today but they will review the decision after two weeks, and thereafter keep the situation under constant review.
ELM said: “This decision has not been taken lightly. But just as in last March, when we and many other mosques closed even before the government announced a national lockdown, we’re putting the safety of our congregation, our staff and our volunteers above our strong desire to maintain communal worship.
“Our decision has been made in consultation with senior scholars, imams and ulama of the country. In Islam, the preservation of life is of the utmost importance and a key governing principle used to formulate rulings in the Shari’ah, as is the case here.”
ELM is advising families to pray together at home but it will continue to broadcast talks through its website and social media, and it will keep essential services running, such as food bank deliveries and advice and counselling.
Its funeral service will also still be operating although funeral prayers held by family and friends will be limited to 30 people in accordance with the lockdown rules.
On Monday the Prime Minister announced a national lockdown and instructed people to stay at home to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives.
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The decision followed a rapid rise in infections, hospital admissions and case rates across the country, with hospitals now under more pressure than they have been at any other point throughout the pandemic.
This drastic jump in cases has been attributed to the new variant of COVID-19, which scientists have now confirmed is between 50 and 70 per cent more transmissible.
New government guidelines state that the public can attend places of worship for a service, although people must not mingle with anyone outside of their household or support bubble. They should also maintain strict social distancing at all times.
Most major mosques around the country remain open for communal and individual prayer with strict restrictions.