BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — As Brunei welcomes the fasting month, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah reminded Bruneians to comply with COVID-19 guidelines even though the outbreak has been brought under control in the country.

In a titah broadcast from Istana Nurul Iman on the eve of Ramadhan, His Majesty said it is still necessary for Brunei residents to comply with public health control measures.

“Do not neglect these precautionary measures for as long as the situation requires.

“We are not sure when this pandemic will end, no one can predict it. Thus, we should continue to practise the duty of care,” he added.

Brunei welcomed the first day of Ramadhan on Wednesday, as the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sultan said it is important to stay vigilant during social gatherings or shopping in markets and other crowded places, adding that COVID-19 rules should be observed as long as they are still in place.

“We should continue the new normal, for our safety and health. Health is very important, especially for us to fast. It is also appropriate for us to be determined to fast for a full month, InsyaAllah, our good intentions will be accepted by Allah SWT,” he said.

His Majesty said Muslims across the world experienced a different Ramadhan last year due to the spread of the coronavirus.

In Brunei, COVID-19 forced the closure of mosques and places of worship during Ramadhan last year.

Friday congregational prayers as well as tarawih prayers were banned at mosques and Muslims were urged to perform tarawih prayers at home instead.

His Majesty said, “Alhamdulilah, the situation is showing good development in our country, where this frightening outbreak has been brought under control with God’s permission.

“This is good news for Muslims in this country in particular, to perform their fast in a more comfortable atmosphere,” he added.

The sultan added that there was no reason to negelct acts of worship, given that the COVID-19 outbreak has been brought under control in Brunei.

Alhamdulilah, the situation this year does not seem to stop us from attending places of worship as usual, unless unexpected things happen,” he added.

On April 3, the Ministry of Religious Affairs announced that congregants will be allowed to attend tarawih prayers at mosques and other places of worship, as well as group religious activities this Ramadhan.

Worshippers are still required to observe COVID-19 guidelines, such as social distancing, temperature checks and signing into public places via the BruHealth app.

His Majesty expressed hope that God will grant Muslims good health to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri in peace and safety.

“Preparations [for Hari Raya] should be done in moderation, in accordance with the current economic situation and other factors. Reducing spending means helping ourselves,” he said.