AN imam has spoken of his sadness after revealing half of a mosque committee have died during the coronavirus pandemic.

Qari Khalid Mehmood of the Ghausia Masjid in Nelson also told of his hopes for the future and urged the community to listen to all safety measures.

The mosque itself has been closed despite it legally being allowed to remain open. The deaths were not attributed to anyone attending the mosque and were in the community.

Of the eight members of the mosque committee four have died since the coronavirus pandemic began in March. This included the mosque president, the treasurer and two committee members.

One member died in the first wave of the pandemic in the spring and a further three lost their lives in October and November.

Qari Mehmood said: “It has been a difficult time for all in the community. It has been a sad time not just for us but for people across the world.

“We decided earlier this month to voluntarily close to worshippers. Other mosques in Pendle have also closed and this has been a joint effort.”

At present, government legislation does allow places of worship to remain open in England provided people do not mix with anyone outside their household or support bubble.

Qari Mehmood said: “When we were open we did not have a single case of coronavirus and this was due to our strict controls which included temperature checks and full Covid-19 safety procedures.

“All our attendees have been very good and listened to all the advice. We cannot ask for more.

“But despite being able to open we think with the present situation and the number of cases in the area it was better if we closed.”

Lancashire’s directors of public health have written to places of worship urging them to close during lockdown to protect communities. Their request has been endorsed by the Lancashire Faith and Community Cohesion Group.

This led to 11 mosques in Pendle closing their doors to worshippers. Similar closures have taken place across the country with East London Mosque one of the major institutions to make a similar announcement as the 2021 lockdown began.