SOPs on barbershops, mosques to be decided this weekend

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN/ pic by BERNAMA

HEALTH guidelines for barbershops, hair salons, night markets and communal prayer at mosques will be presented to the authorities later this week to decide if those businesses or activities can be restarted.

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said standard operating procedures (SOPs) involving grooming businesses, street markets and Muslim places of worship are being finalised and will be tabled at a meeting on Saturday.

“There will be a few items on the agenda including an SOP for congregational prayer at mosques. There have been suggestions to consider the size of mosques in determining the number of people allowed at a time. The Putrajaya Mosque, for example, can probably house 200 people with social distancing measures compared to smaller prayer sites.

“We will look into it in detail this weekend,” Ismail Sabri said at his daily press conference yesterday.

Mass prayers are currently allowed in most states namely Perak, Perlis, Johor, Negri Sembilan, Melaka, Sabah, Sarawak and the Federal Territories. Selangor, which has one of the highest numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases in Malaysia, has extended the suspension until June 30.

Health guidelines, however, vary depending on state as religious matters fall under state jurisdiction. In Kuala Lumpur, prayers by congregation are limited to 30 people, while in Ipoh, the state capital of Perak, the congregation is limited to 12.

Congregational prayers at mosques have been banned since the Movement Control Order (MCO) took effect on March 18, after thousands were infected in a religious gathering at a mosque attended by about 16,000 people. Some curbs were subsequently eased ahead of the Hari Raya festival.

Meanwhile, interstate travel will be allowed for the solemnisation of a marriage, Ismail Sabri said. Standard travel rules including obtaining permission from the police will apply.

“The ceremony should observe social distancing rules with no more than 20 people allowed to be present at a time,” he said.

Wedding photography businesses have also been allowed to resume operations, with consent given to outdoor pre-wedding shoots beginning yesterday. Separately, filming for advertisements, television series and movies will be allowed starting June 10.

The government has also provided an update on SOPs for nurseries and childcare centres. Out of 7,000 centres registered under the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, only 304 were in operation as initial guidelines were unclear leaving parents concerned for the safety of their children.

The new guideline, which has been made available on the ministry website, has been approved by the Health Ministry. “We hope the reopening of the centres will allow parents to leave for work,” Ismail Sabri said.