Four out of eight members of a mosque committee in Nelson, Lancashire, have died from coronavirus although the deaths are not linked to activity in the mosque itself.
Ghausia Masjid in Nelson has lost its president, treasurer and two committee members since last March.
One member died in the first wave of the pandemic in the spring and a further three lost their lives in October and November.
Qari Khalid Mehmood of Ghausia Masjid told the Lancashire Telegraph that the community must listen to all COVID-19 safety measures. The mosque itself has been closed despite it legally being allowed to remain open.
At present, government legislation allows places of worship to remain open in England provided people do not mix with anyone outside their household or support bubble.
Qari Mehmood said: “It has been a difficult time for all in the community. It has been a sad time not just for us but for people across the world. We decided earlier this month to voluntarily close to worshippers. Other mosques in Pendle have also closed and this has been a joint effort.
“When we were open we did not have a single case of coronavirus and this was due to our strict controls which included temperature checks and full COVID-19 safety procedures. All our attendees have been very good and listened to all the advice. We cannot ask for more. But despite being able to open we think with the present situation and the number of cases in the area it was better if we closed.”
Despite government guidelines, Lancashire’s directors of public health have written to places of worship urging them to close during lockdown to protect communities.
This led to 11 mosques in Pendle closing their doors to worshippers. Similar closures have taken place across the country although most mosques in the northwest remain open.