Congregational prayers may be banned again if SOP flouted, warns minister

A small group of congregants gathers for Friday prayers under strict social distancing at the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur today.

PUTRAJAYA: Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob today reminded mosques and suraus to adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOP) for congregational and Friday prayers, saying the government may retract its decision to allow limited gatherings if guidelines are not followed.

Speaking at a press conference here, he added that this would be up to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Zulkifli Mohamad Al Bakri.

“Today is the first day that Friday prayers are allowed in mosques, so we haven’t received any detailed reports from the religious affairs minister. We will wait for his report to see what happened today.

“But if many places are found to be breaching the SOP, it’s not impossible for the permission to be retracted. Nonetheless, the minister will inform first.”

If only sporadic cases of non-compliance are recorded, he said, the mosques in question would be issued a warning and advised to adhere to the SOP.

Ismail also said SOP for other places of worship will be announced soon, adding that the national unity minister has been instructed to look into the matter.

He said representatives from Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Taoist faiths would discuss this with the minister, who will present their recommendations at a special ministers’ meeting tomorrow or next Tuesday.

Ismail also reminded the public that the authorities would take action against anyone found breaching the set SOP, adding that the police had arrested 44 individuals yesterday.

Those detained can either be fined RM1,000 or taken to court under Act 342 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act.

He also said the enhanced movement control order (EMCO) at Selayang Baru will be ending today, adding that the health ministry has screened all residents there for Covid-19.

The area was placed under the EMCO on April 25. It was the seventh locality to be put under lockdown.

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