Baghdad, Apr 19 (efe-epa).- Iraq, Lebanon and Syria have decided to ease their coronavirus curfews just days before the Muslims’ holy month of Ramadan.
Iraq’s Higher Committee for Health and National Safety on Sunday decided to partially scale back the 24-hour curfew, with it now slated to be in effect from 7 pm until 6 am between April 21 and May 22.
The committee, headed by caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, approved the suggestion by the Health Ministry to ease the movement restrictions during the holy month that starts next week.
During Ramadan, observant Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, and smoking from sunup to sundown and then they usually gather together to break their fast and socialize.
The restrictions, however, will remain fully in place on Fridays and Saturdays, the committee added.
Gatherings of more than three people remain prohibited, while restaurants are not allowed to serve diners but rather must deliver all food orders.
All citizens must wear a facemask or some kind of facial covering when they go out in public, the committee added.
Thus far, Iraq has reported 1,482 coronavirus cases and 81 deaths.
The Lebanese Interior Ministry slightly shifted the hours of its curfew, which will now run from 8 pm to 5 am rather than starting at 7 pm.
The decision comes after the infection rate has been steady and no deaths have been reported over the past few days, although overall Lebanon has reported 672 cases and 21 deaths.
The Syrian government, which has reported 38 cases and two deaths, also reduced its curfew starting on Sunday, allowing some shops – such as barbers – to reopen.
This year, Ramadan, the ninth month in the 12-month Islamic calendar, begins on April 23.
Fasting in Ramadan is one of the so-called “five pillars” – or main tenets – of Islam, the others being the profession of faith by all Muslim faithful, performing regular prayers, almsgiving and pilgrimage, although certain exceptions exist under specific circumstances.
Women are allowed not to fast if pregnant or during their menstrual period, while people who are travelling or sick are permitted to refrain from fasting.
However, Muslim religious authorities have ruled that the coronavirus does not prevent Muslims from fasting.