As the holy month of Ramadan comes to a close this weekend (Saturday 23 to Sunday 24 May), Wiltshire and Swindon’s Local Resilience Forum has issued an open letter to all Muslims in the county, reminding them of the social distancing rules still in place, despite the easing of the lockdown.
Ramadan traditionally ends with a religious festival known as Eid-Al-Fitr - breaking of the fast - and is celebrated by Muslims across the world. In normal times, there would be gatherings at mosques for Eid-Al-Fitr prayer services and meeting up with friends and family for a feast.
Places of worship including mosques remain closed and large gatherings for prayer or feasting are not possible under the current Covid-19 restrictions. People from the same household can go outside together and in addition now, one person can meet in a public place outside with one other person from a different household, but must keep 2 metres apart. Gatherings of more than two people from different households are prohibited in law.
Special prayers for the day of Eid – usually prayed in mosques or in parks – may be prayed within households, gifts can be exchanged by post or online and celebrations can be shared virtually.
Other restrictions mean that people cannot go to the home of a relative at Eid – visiting other homes for social or religious activities where you do not reside is not currently permitted.
Cemeteries and memorial grounds are allowed to be open, but no more than two people can visit together from separate households and will need to stay two metres apart from others not in their household and wash their hands frequently.
Local Resilience Forum Chair Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said, “We know Eid is an important time of the year for many people and normally a chance to meet up with families and friends and celebrate the end of Ramadan.
“Sadly this year, Eid cannot be marked in the same way. If you are preparing for Eid, please think about different ways of celebrating, for example making video calls with friends and family.
“It is vital to stay safe and protect others while celebrating the special day,” he added.
Angus Macpherson, Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon added: “I have personally enjoyed Eid every year for the last eight years since becoming PCC, joining Muslim communities in Swindon and Wiltshire.
“This crisis has meant sacrifices from all of us and many people of faith have had to adapt practices through religious festivals, including Easter, Passover, Vaisakhi, Ramadan and Eid.
“Muslims and other faith communities have met these challenges head on, using technology for prayer and Iftar with family and friends throughout Ramadan.
“All of us should feel proud of how we have come together to make social distancing work in this crisis,” Mr Macpherson added.
An information poster on how to celebrate Eid during lockdown in England, issued by the Muslim Council of Britain is available here