Friday Prayers? You Need A Reservation In Brunei

A man wearing a face mask amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, walks at the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan on 16 March, 2020. (AFP Photo) 

Want to offer Friday prayers at a mosque in Brunei? Make a reservation on the health app on Monday! 

Bruneians are adapting to a 'new normal' during the holy month of Ramadan in these trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like other countries around the region, Brunei has closed its mosques. But with Brunei reporting no new COVID-19 case during the last 10 days, authorities in the country have decided to open mosques and prayer halls in a phased manner with certain caveats in place. 

Under the first phase, Friday prayers will be allowed in mosques on 29 May, 5 June and 12 June. Entry into mosques will be allowed only 10 minutes before azan (the Muslim call to prayer) and mosques will be closed within 10 minutes after the prayers are over.

Religious affairs minister, Awang Badaruddin bin Awang Othman said on Monday that anyone who wishes to offer Friday prayers at a mosque must fulfil certain conditions. He said before making the reservation the worshipper must do a daily self-assessment, using the BruHealth app.

The minister added that people who have made the reservation must do another check on BruHealth on Friday to update their health status at least 12 hours before going to a mosque.

Awang Badaruddin said after updating the self-assessment via the BruHealth app, the resulting colour code will determine whether a person can take part in the prayers at the mosque. People making a reservation for Friday prayers need to update their health status daily. Anyone found not updating the health assessment status will not be allowed to register for the next Friday prayers.

30 Percent Capacity

The worshippers have been told that as advised by the Ministry of Health, they should wear a face mask, bring their own prayer mats and perform the ritual ablutions (wudhu) at home. As far as the number of congregants are concerned, mosques and prayer halls will allow only 30 percent of their seating capacity.

According to the guidelines for praying in congregations at mosques – handshakes and staying too long at the mosque as well as exceeding quota capacity are not allowed. Congregants also need to scan the mosque QR code in order to enter the mosque.

Religious talks, visitors and serving food for congregants are temporarily not allowed. Food takeaways are allowed to be distributed, the minister said.

Awang Badaruddin said under the second phase the public will be allowed to offer the five daily prayers at mosques only if no new coronavirus cases are reported two weeks after the reopening of mosques.

Apart from this, Brunei has allowed six sectors to operate in a limited capacity with the use of the BruHealth app. These sectors are driving schools, gyms and fitness centres, sports facilities, golf courses, restaurants, cafes and food courts and stalls and markets. They will be allowed to operate at 30 percent of their premises' capacity. 

Like other countries, Brunei banned mass congregations at mosques and restricted business activities like cancelling the Gerai Ramadhan (Ramadhan Bazaar) at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium, where more than 500 vendors were expected to put up stalls.

Related articles: 

Brunei’s Response To COVID-19

COVID-19: Facts And Fakes

Asif Ullah Khan is a veteran journalist with over 35 years of experience. At present, he is based in Jaipur, India, and contributes to India Legal, The Wire, The Diplomat and other publications.