Please stay home this Ramadan
As Muslim communities across the county prepare for Ramadan, which begins this evening (Thursday 23 April), a reminder of the current social distancing rules has been issued to ensure people stay safe at all times during the holy month.
Wiltshire and Swindon's Local Resilience Forum (LRF) has shared a partnership letter to Muslims in the county planning to mark Ramadan, urging them to find alternative ways to celebrate, pray and enjoy the special month, reminding them that they will not be able to mark Ramadan in the way they would normally do.
Under the current restrictions, all places of worship, including mosques, should remain closed and people will be unable to meet outside of their immediate households for sharing meals and prayers.
The LRF is asking everyone who is preparing for Ramadan to think about different ways of connecting virtually with people outside their own household, including praying at home, planning Iftars ahead to minimise trips to the supermarket, video calling family for Iftar meals (breaking the fast) and using social media to reach out to the community.
Chair of Wiltshire and Swindon's LRF Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said that everyone should be able to mark the occasions that are most important to them, but the coronavirus pandemic has challenged so many parts of our daily life, and Ramadan is no exception to this.
He said "I know the past few weeks have been challenging for everyone, but it is so important to continue to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.
"It is wonderful to see so many people stepping up to safely support their family, neighbours and communities and those who are most vulnerable.
"During Ramadan we know this will take on a special meaning for Muslims. People will still be able to demonstrate the values of compassion and love, but this year will need to stay home to do so.
"No-one wants the restrictions to go on for a day longer than they have to, but we all have to work together to protect each other and make sure our friends and family, especially those who are older or may have health problems, are not exposed to this disease."
Ramadan is the holiest month of the year for Muslims, when the Qur'an was revealed to the prophet Muhammad.
Muslims around the world fast during daylight hours and increase spiritual acts such as prayer, giving charity and strengthening family ties. Ramadan ends on May 22 with a traditional festival known as Eid al-Fitr.
The Muslim Council of Britain has published a downloadable guide on Ramadan 2020 on its website.