Riyadh: Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, decided that it will open mosques in the kingdom for weekly Friday prayers after May 31, till June 20 except in Makkah. The move comes in line with the kingdom’s efforts of relaxing the lockdown measures.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs said the mosques will be open for the public for weekly prayers from May 31 till June 20.

A circular issued to mosque staff by Sheikh Abdullatif bin Abdul Aziz bin Abdul Rahman Al-Asheikh, the Islamic affairs minister, said windows and doors must be open at all times and copies of the Qur’an must be temporarily withdrawn.

“Worshippers must keep two meters apart and leave a row of space empty between each row,” he said.

He further added that people should strictly wear facemasks at all times and bring their prayer mats with them while also performing ablution at home. However, entry of children below 15 years age will be restricted and the Imam will have to make sure that there is no overcrowding while people are entering and exiting the mosque.

Water coolers and the distribution of food and drinks are not permitted, as well as incense and miswak, which is used to clean teeth. Mosques must also close all toilets and places of ablution.

Smaller mosques can open 15 minutes before the call to prayer and should close 10 minutes after they finish.

Mosques with larger crowds can open 20 minutes before prayers and should close 20 minutes after they finish, and the sermon should not last more than 15 minutes.

The Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages, which attract millions of travelers from around the world, will remain suspended until further notice, the ministry said.

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Raipur: The Chhattisgarh government on Tuesday decided to procure cow dung at Rs 2 per kilogram from cattle rearers as part of its 'Gaudhan Nyay Yojana' which will be launched on July 20, coinciding with local Hareli festival, an official said.

The decision was taken in a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel here on Tuesday, a government spokesperson said.

The scheme is meant for large scale production of vermicompost in gauthans (dedicated land in villages where cattle are housed) set up under the ambitious 'Narva, Garua, Ghurua aur Bari' scheme of the state government, he said.

"Earlier, a cabinet sub-committee had recommended buying cow dung at Rs 1.50 per kg but the cabinet has fixed the procurement rate at Rs 2 per kg, including transport cost," he said.

The state government has sanctioned construction of nearly 5300 gauthans so far, out of which 2,408 in rural areas and 377 in urban areas have been set up, he said.

In these gauthans, cow and buffalo dung will be procured from cattle owners through gauthan committees and will be utilized for making vermicompost and other products, he added.

The scheme will be launched on Hareli festival, which is celebrated to mark the start of agricultural activities.

The cabinet also approved selling of vermicompost produced under the scheme through cooperative societies to farmers at the rate of Rs 8 per kg, he said.

The cabinet also approved a plan to distribute 5 kg rice per person each month from July to November on ration cards (except for APL category) issued under the Chhattisgarh Food Security Act, in the same way as it is being provided on ration cards under National Food Security Act, he said.

"Likewise, one kg of a gram will be given per month during the same period to ration card holders (except for APL category)under Chhattisgarh Food Security Act," he said.

Besides, the cabinet approved to merge the remaining batch of teachers working under panchayat and urban body departments, who have completed a service period of two years or more, with the school education department from November 1.

The move will benefit 16,278 teachers, he added.

The cabinet also decided to constitute the Indravati Basin Development Authority for development of Indravati river valley in south Chhattisgarh, he said.

The decision to discontinue the Chhattisgarh State Law Commission was also taken in the meeting, he said.