Muslim doctors call for 'sensible' Eid celebrations as restrictions ease in England

Credit: PA

As Covid restrictions are lifted in England, health officials have called for 'sensible' and limited' Eid celebrations.

Muslims across the North West are being encouraged to continue to get vaccinated, take coronavirus tests and wear face coverings during festivities, which coincide with so-called 'Freedom Day'.

Eid - as it is commonly known - is one of the biggest celebrations in the Muslim calendar.

Typically they mark the festival by visiting mosques for special prayers, and sharing meals with friends and family.

The Islamic celebrations and lifting of restrictions come as the UK records the highest levels of Covid cases since the peak of the second wave back in January 2021.

Lockdown rules in England: What's changing from July 19

What has happened to social distancing and the rule of six?

The 'one metre plus' rule has been scrapped entirely, as of July 19 in England. However, some guidance to maintain social distancing in certain situations will remain in place of the legal restrictions.

Social distancing guidance will continue if someone is Covid positive and self-isolating, or in airports, or other ports of entry, to avoid travellers arriving from amber or red-list countries mixing with those from green list areas.

Limits on social contact in England have disappeared, meaning the end of the rule of six indoors and the limit of 30 people for outdoor gatherings.

Do I still need to wear a face mask?

There is now no legal requirements to wear face coverings - but guidance still encourages using masks in some settings, including hospitals, healthcare settings and in crowded enclosed public spaces.

Has the working from home guidance changed?

The guidance on working from home has gone. It's ultimately down to employers to decide whether to keep staff at home or in the office, but the government say employers are able to plan the return of staff to the workplace.

What about weddings and funerals?

The current limits on numbers of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other life events has ended.

What's happening in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?

The changes to Covid rules announced by Boris Johnson, only impact England and will not change regulations in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland.

The Welsh Government “would like to move together” with other parts of the UK in lifting coronavirus restrictions but will only do so if it is “right for Wales”, health minister Eluned Morgan said on Monday 5 July.

As of July 19, restrictions in Scotland have eased, with all areas of the country moving to level 0. The government is aiming to lift all major restrictions in Scotland by August 9.

In Northern Ireland, some significant restrictions have already been eased including allowing the resumption of live music and the lifting of caps on organised outdoor gatherings.

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Eid celebrations are taking place across the North West this week, but health officials are urging caution. Credit: PA

Charities and health bodies have called for caution and have urged people to celebrate in a limited way.

Dr Hina Shahid, chairwoman of the Muslim Doctors Association, said: "Both indoor and outdoor celebrations could potentially impact Muslim families and individuals so I would urge that Eid ul Adha celebrations are again limited, the last thing we want is for festivities to become super spreader events.

"There remain increased risks from Covid-19 infection in the community and in light of evidence of increasing transmission, there needs to be a sensible approach in celebrations, minimising risks to vulnerable people, continuing with hand and respiratory hygiene and wearing face masks in crowded places."

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Dr Habib Naqvi, director of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, said keeping well throughout the celebrations will mean "adapting usual religious and cultural practices".

He continued: "This is particularly important for protecting vulnerable people who are shielding because of underlying health conditions as well as family, friends and carers of those who are most vulnerable.

"Asian and black communities remain particularly vulnerable and disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 virus.

"The wide mixing of households and people of all ages, without restrictions, means this risk sadly remains."

As cases rise and restrictions are lifted, people are urged to limit Eid celebrations. Credit: PA

Islamic Relief called for worshippers to be mindful of the daily rising cases and also warned against hugging and praying too close together.

This "ideally means avoiding hugging, resisting praying shoulder to shoulder and wearing a mask where possible", said charity director Tufail Hussain.

He added: "We know that a lot of Muslim families live with elderly parents or grandparents so it is important we keep them in our thoughts when attending Eid celebrations throughout the week, especially if we are planning on attending larger-scale events, where there might be a higher chance of catching Covid."