Coronavirus: Eid celebrations eased in Oldham as COVID spike brings tighter lockdown | UK News

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The annual Eid al-Adha festival – the Festival of Sacrifice – is a time of celebration and family.

But in Oldham, those celebrations will be rather muted this year.

Mosques in the city are preparing for the four-day religious holiday, which began Thursday, ensuring strict hygiene measures and limiting the number of people allowed at the time of common prayer.

“If people saw what we’re doing,” Abdul Karim, of Oldham Central Mosque told Sky News, “they would actually like the fact that these places aren’t actually producing a spread, if anything, we would. let’s actually reduce. “

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Abdul Karim says mosque served as coronavirus information distribution center

The central mosque normally waits for around 2,500 people for Eid prayers.

But this year, they are limiting their number to a few hundred.

“We are also acting as a kind of information distribution point,” Mr. Karim said, “raising awareness about the pandemic and the safety issues in the community. “

New markers tell people where to place their prayer rugs
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New markers tell people where to place their prayer rugs at the mosque

This week, Oldham recorded the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the UK per 100,000 population – only Blackburn with Darwen recorded a higher rate.

The city council has reintroduced certain social distancing measures in an attempt to avoid a full local lockdown, including a ban on all social visits to homes and gardens.

As part of Greater Manchester, Oldham is now subject to the more stringent local lockdown measures which took effect in the region from today after an increase in cases.

This meant that families had to cancel their plans for typical Eid celebrations.

“Normally we would set up decorations and prepare a lot of food,” said Hafizan Zaman. “On a typical day, we would expect 40 to 50 guests, family and friends to visit us. ”

Instead, Mrs Zaman, married with three children, will be celebrating at the house.

“It’s disappointing,” said her husband, Nasim Ashraf, “but I think we were half expecting it. ”

“I think it’s just the right moment really, it’s a shame the restriction didn’t come next week, that would have been ideal for us. But we did. [social distancing] for months now and will continue. ”

The Ashraf family have canceled their Eid celebrations for this year
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The Ashraf family have canceled their Eid celebrations for this year

Oldham’s council says it has no concerns about Eid celebrations and the gatherings around them, which are increasing the rate of COVID-19 infections.

But we did speak with a group of inner-city teens who said they were “100% planning” to go out in groups to celebrate Eid, despite social distancing restrictions.

“Young people are carefree,” one young man told us, “but others are too”.

“I’ve seen people do whatever they want, they don’t take care of themselves or others, they’re on the streets, almost everywhere.

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