Turkey begins holy month Ramadan with precautions against COVID-19

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Muslims across the world started the holy fasting month of Ramadan in the evening of April 23 and will end on May 23, under the shadow of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Ramadan in Turkey began within a four-day lockdown in 31 large provinces, which also encapsulated April 23 National Sovereignty and Children’s Day. The curfew extends to the weekend.

Practicing Muslims do not eat, drink or smoke from dawn to sunset every day. Turkey’s Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) on April 14 said fasting during the month of Ramadan is a religious duty that cannot be deferred due to the pandemic. Citing experts, a statement said, fasting carried no risks for healthy people.

The Interior Ministry on April 23 issued a circular on measures that will be taken against the novel coronavirus during the Ramadan. Events and tents where people would gather to break their fasts at sunset, which usually would draw large crowds, have been banned, according to the circular.

The ministry said all necessary precautions will be taken during iftar and sahur, the meal before the start of the fast, to maintain social distancing outdoors. The temporary closure of streets that may be crowded during iftar and sahur times will be evaluated within the scope of the measures. Visits to holy shrines will be also restricted. Municipalities will also coordinate the increase in the number of vehicles and trips via public transportation at least three hours before iftar, considering the traffic density.

The selling time of pide – a traditional round and flatbread generally consumed during the fasting month – will be terminated two hours before iftar in order to prevent crowds from gathering at bakeries. Production, sales and other preparation processes will continue in bakeries after iftar hours. Marketplaces will also be controlled to ensure that citizens follow social distancing rules and wear medical face masks.

Social distancing will also be enforced among visitors to cemeteries on the eve of and during Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of the fasting month, and officials will take the temperatures of the visitors.

Hurriyet Daily News

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