The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is set to reopen Sunday after a hiatus of more than two months due to the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.
Stringent social distancing guidelines are to be observed under the supervision of the Islamic Waqf Authority, which administers the site, according to a report by the Algemeiner. There are reportedly to be separated prayer areas for Muslims marked out to accommodate up to 50 worshipers each.
Jewish visitors to the compound, one of the holiest sites in the Judaic faith, are to be allowed to enter but not to pray there, in accordance with the status quo.
The site is also the third holiest site in Islam. Muslim worshipers will be allowed to return to the site as well beginning at dawn on Sunday, i24TV reported, according to the AFP news agency, quoting the director of the Al Aqsa mosque, Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani.
However, how far they will be allowed into the site is not yet clear: al-Kiswani told the news agency “the doors of the Al-Aqsa mosque will be opened at dawn,” — a statement that left the question open as to whether that meant worshipers would be allowed to enter the mosque itself or simply pray in the courtyard.
Both the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock Mosque have been closed for the past 70 days due to the spread of the pandemic among Muslim worshipers.
The site was closed throughout the entire holy Islamic month of Ramadan, including the Islamic festivals that begin and conclude the month — Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr — and throughout the Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer and now Shavuot, which has just concluded.