‘Great’ mosque open for prayer again

Safety first .. Displaying safety measures outside Al Huda mosque in North Dunedin on Friday are (from left) Otago Muslim Association deputy chairman Steve Johnston, community member Mara Dongaran and chairman Mohammed Rizwan, all of Dunedin. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

Places of worship – such as Al Huda mosque in North Dunedin – have opened their doors for the first time in months.

The restriction on gathering numbers rose from 10 to 100 at noon on Friday and half an hour later about 60 people gathered at the mosque to pray.

Otago Muslim Association chairman Dr Mohammed Rizwan said it was “great” to be able to pray at the mosque again.

As Friday was the most popular day of prayer, two sessions were arranged, as numbers had to be split in order to stick to Level 2 rules.

If people wanted to pray in the mosque they had to register for a session online, Dr Rizwan said.

He and association deputy chairman Steve Johnston checked registrations at the gate of the mosque.

As people entered, community member Mara Dongaran gave them a squirt of hand sanitiser, before they were checked off a printed register and guided to an area to remove their shoes before entering to pray.

Safety measures such as physical distancing were in place at the mosque to guard against the spread of Covid-19.

Restrictions still prevented people aged 70 and older from praying at the mosque.

He hoped the age restriction would be lifted soon.

“We had to turn a few elderly brothers away because they are older than the age limit.”