BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The government will consider reopening mosques, surau and religious halls once 70 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, the religious affairs minister said Monday.

The first stage of reopening would see mosques open for the five daily prayers, as well as mass Friday prayers, but other religious activities would only resume once is it safe to do so.

YB Pehin Dato Ustaz Hj Badaruddin Dato Hj Othman said a steering committee co-chaired by the Ministry of Health would evaluate the situation when the time comes. 

Speaking to reporters after the daily COVID-19 press briefing, the minister added that anyone who enters the mosque must show proof of a double-dose vaccination.

Only people who are fully vaccinated will be allowed in and they must also comply with other guidelines set by the Ministry of Health, such as social distancing.

FILE PHOTO: Mosque staff perform temperature checks on congregants as places of worship reopened to the public on May 29, 2020, following 10 weeks of closure. Photo: Yusri Adanan/The Scoop

Mosques and all other places of worship have been closed since August 8 when the country reported community cases for the first time in 15 months.

Mosques were also closed for 10 weeks during Brunei’s first COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, and reopened in phases from late May.

“The situation can now be considered different now compared to the first wave, as fears have began to dissipate with the availability of vaccines,” the minister said.