Remain cautious during COVID-19 de-escalation, says minister

Azlan Othman

As Brunei Darussalam is now in the de-escalation stage of COVID-19 with 27 days of no news cases as of yesterday, the public is urged not to get too excited or more complacent.

“Keep in mind that we still need to remain cautious and are putting efforts to curb the infections or community spread,” said Minister of Religious Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman at the daily press conference yesterday.

“It is in this context that the re-opening of the mosques is scheduled in four in stages until the fourth stage which Insya Allah will be completed around July. Now we are entering the second week of Friday on June 5, and the third Friday is on June 12.

“And for that we must strive to smoothen the affairs and control of certain matters for the performance of Friday prayers in mosques, suraus and religious halls throughout the country.

“This will include setting up a prudent procedure for the five-times a day obligatory prayer at a stage planned later before the mosque, prayer and religious halls return to normalcy,” the minister said.

Mosques, suraus and religious halls were opened for Friday prayers on May 29 after their closure on March 20 to May 22 or 10 Friday prayers.

Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin said the reopening, which began last Friday, was in the first phase of the de-escalation of COVID-19 in the country for 14 days beginning May 29 to June 12 covering three Fridays.

Minister of Religious Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman. PHOTO: AZIZ IDRIS
Minister of Religious Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman. PHOTO: AZIZ IDRIS

The reopening is in line with the State Mufti’s Fatwa 02/2020, on the outbreak in the country is under control according to the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) statement and advice.

In this regard, the Ministry of Religious Affairs acknowledged those who served in coordinating the necessary controls – the Royal Brunei Police Force, the Royal Brunei Armed Forces, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports Volunteers, the Red Crescent Society, Scouts Association, Mosque officers and members of the Takmir (administrative) and volunteer mosque committee.

The minister added that over 30,000 people prayed in an orderly manner during the last Friday prayers. The figures are estimated from the MoH’s records through the BruHealth app.

“We believe that through the blessings of supplication and acts of worship and charitable deeds, with the grace of Allah the Almighty, COVID-19 in our country will be under control and end soon.

“Indeed, COVID-19 plagued our country since its inception in early March and created extraordinary circumstances affecting our daily lives.

“It affected not just the employment prospects and retailers in certain sectors but also the implementation of religious practices and celebrations including Israk Mikraj, Nisfu Sya’aban, fasting, Tarawikh prayers, Nuzul Quran and Tadarus Al-Quran in the month of Ramadhan and Hari Raya Aidilfitri on the first day of Syawal.

“However, we faced it well, patiently and with an understanding attitude and implemented practical alternatives including organising work from home (WFH), conducting bilateral and multilateral meetings online as well as conducting schooling, the practice of studying or teaching and learning of Al-Quran online.

“Therefore, let us pray to Allah the Almighty to protect us from the COVID-19 outbreaks and other diseases, while still striving to abide by the laws and to practise health control guidelines,” the minister said.