The NSW Government has reportedly granted a Sydney mosque a temporary exemption from COVID-19 restrictions to allow hundreds of Muslims to gather for the annual festival of Eid al-Adha.
ABC News reports: “Up to 400 people will be allowed inside the Auburn Gallipoli Mosque in Sydney’s west under the one-off exemption, granted by NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard.”
Current restrictions in NSW limit places of worship to a maximum of 100 people, or one visitor per four square metres.
Mosque president Abdurrahman Asaroglu said he doesn’t think there will be any issues, provided the 400 attendees all adhere to the building’s COVID-19 Safety Plan.
“Our community is really understanding and they are OK to follow these measures — no shaking hands, no hugging — making sure that they just pray,” he said.
“If everyone does the right thing I don’t think there will be any issues.”
The NSW Health Minister said exemptions were only considered under “exceptional circumstances.”
One individual told Caldron Pool: “I couldn’t give my dad a proper funeral under these restrictions. We were only allowed around 20 people at the time because of the ‘risk’ of spreading the virus. None of his close friends were allowed to come.
“So, why are there two sets of rules? Do they think the virus cares if it’s an Islamic religious holiday? Because we were told the virus didn’t care about Christian holidays. Churches were close for Easter.”
The decision comes as NSW recorded 19 new cases on Thursday forcing the closure of several schools. On the same day, Victoria recorded more than 720 new cases and 13 deaths, the highest daily totals in Australia since the pandemic started.