AHEAD of Eid-ul-Fitr, which is due to fall over the bank holiday weekend, mosque leaders and cemeteries are calling on worshippers to avoid gathering to offer prayers, and instead celebrate the end of Ramadan at home.

Guidance for places of worship and their position on outdoor congregational prayers has not been altered by the Government since lockdown began, with current advice stating mosques should remain closed despite the easing of some other elements of lockdown.

Due to social distancing restrictions, people are being urged to pray and celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr in their own homes and avoid gathering in congregations at mosques, car parks or any open space to offer Eid prayers.

Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, said: “We appreciate Eid is a time when many families wish to visit the graves of loved ones to pay their respects. We have to accept that, due to the coronavirus pandemic, this Eid is very different to any we have experienced before.

“The most important thing is to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, and that means observing Eid at home.” 

Although cemeteries remain open, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council has announced that on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, there will be limited vehicle access to Pleasington Cemetery between 8.30am and 12pm, and marshals will be at the Tower Road entrance from 8am.

The measure has been introduced to ensure public safety for everyone visiting the graves of their loved ones on these days.

Exceptions will be made for anyone with mobility issues and elderly people, who will be directed to the cemetery’s Pleasington car park, and anyone attending funerals.

Any visitors should continue to adhere to Covid-19 guidelines related to social distancing and respect funerals that continue to take place.

Maulana Rafiq Sufi, Chair of Lancashire Council Mosques, said: “Although it is traditional to visit the cemetery on Eid, we request that, in the current crisis, only essential visits are made. 

“We appeal to Muslim households to continue to abide by the lockdown measures to stay at home.

“If they do visit the cemetery on Eid Day, please only visit with members of your own household.

“Do not arrange to meet up in groups at the cemetery.

“Anyone who does plan to visit the cemetery should consider avoiding busy periods, ideally visit before 8am and after 5pm.”

On Monday, mosques in Burnley also issued advice for worshippers wanting to celebrate Eid.

A spokesperson for Burnley Council of Mosques said: “There will be no congregational Eid-Salah in any Burnley mosques, car parks or any other public space.

“Please avoid visiting family and friends and continue to help stop the spread of the virus.”

Pendle Council is also reminding residents that social distancing restrictions are still in place and they must celebrate at home.

Councillor Mohammed Iqbal, Leader of Pendle Council, stressed: “Please celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr in your own homes with the people you live with only.

“I know how disappointing it is not to mark the end of Ramadan together but anyone can spread coronavirus and anyone can catch it.

“Social distancing restrictions haven’t been lifted which means people should not gather in groups.

“Only two people from different households can now meet in outdoor settings, such as parks and public spaces as long as they stay two metres apart.

“We’ve come this far - let’s do what we can to continue to protect our loved ones to control the virus and save lives.

 “So please don’t get together with friends and family or attend any large gatherings at mosques, car parks or any other open spaces.

“Stay safe and celebrate at home.”

The next review in relation to places of worship will be carried out by the Government in July at the earliest.

A spokesperson for the Lancashire Resilience Forum said: “We recognise that this has been an emotional and challenging time for followers of faith and none. 

“Hard work and sacrifice has been effective in saving lives and reducing the pressure on the NHS.

“Residents should continue to pray at home with household members or explore online opportunities with their local faith community across the county.

“Lancashire Resilience Forum will continue to keep the situation under review.”