Coronavirus: Eid celebrations toned down in Oldham as COVID spike brings a tighter lockdown

North of England correspondent

The annual festival of Eid al-Adha – the Festival of Sacrifice – is a time for celebration and family.

Mosques in the town have been preparing for the four-day religious holiday, which began on Thursday, by ensuring strict hygiene measures and restricting the number of people allowed in at communal prayer time.

“If people saw what we do,” Abdul Karim, from Oldham Central mosque told Sky News, “they would actually appreciate the fact that these places aren’t actually producing the spread, if anything we’re actually reducing it.”

“We’re also acting as a sort of information distribution point,” Mr Karim said, “by raising awareness about the pandemic and about safety issues in the community.”

This week Oldham recorded the UK’s second highest number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 of the population – only Blackburn with Darwen recorded a higher rate.

The town’s council reintroduced some social distancing measures to try an avoid a full local lockdown, including banning all social visits to homes and gardens.

As part of Greater Manchester, Oldham is now subject to the stricter local lockdown measures that have come into force in the area from today after a spike in cases.

“Normally we’d be putting up decorations and getting lots of food ready,” said Hafizan Zaman. “On a normal day we’d expect 40 to 50 guests, family and friends, to visit us.”

“I think it’s just the timing really, it’s a shame the restriction didn’t come in next week, that would have been ideal for us. But we’ve been doing [social distancing] for months now and will just carry on.”

Oldham Council says it has no concerns about Eid celebrations, and the gatherings around them, increasing the rate of COVID-19 infections.

But we spoke with a group of teenagers in the town centre who said they were “100% planning” on going out in groups to celebrate Eid, despite social distancing restrictions.

“I’ve seen people just doing whatever they want, they aren’t taking care of themselves or of others, they are out in the street, basically everywhere.”

© 2020 Sky UK


News – Coronavirus: Eid celebrations toned down in Oldham as COVID spike brings a tighter lockdown

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