Egypt allows gatherings for shooting Ramadan TV serials amid the spread of COVID-19

Egypt government banned gatherings including prayers at mosques to fight COVID-19 but allowed crew shootings for TV serials to be premiered during the Muslims’ holy month of Ramadan!

With Ramadan approaching, Egyptian production companies are excluded from the ban on all gatherings, including prayers at mosques. Only actors and actresses have to take some precautions on COVID-19 in an attempt to realize their projects and finish their TV serials that will be premiered in the fasting month.

Egypt had ordered the closure of mosques and the suspension of public prayers before under the pretext of tackling the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Egypt bans Ramadan activities of ‘tarawih’, ‘i’tikaf’, ‘mass iftar’ amid COVID-19

The Awqaf ministry had announced that all congregational prayers would be temporarily halted, including Muslim Friday prayers. There was no indication of how long the closures would remain in place.

However, a few days before the month of Ramadan — the annual peak season of television series and television drama in Egypt — film sets find themselves challenged as never before to meet deadlines. While no filming in Egypt has been interrupted by authorities to date due to coronavirus, and while no film crew has been denied permission to film, the warning signs are multiplying.

Some production companies have reduced the number of shooting days, in order to minimize the risk of ending up short as general confinement becomes more necessary. Others sometimes limit teams themselves.

Producers confirm that they take necessary precautions to avoid endangering artists and the technicians, requiring the wearing of masks and gloves everywhere on the set, except in front of the cameras. Likewise, they say the filming equipment is cleaned with alcoholic gel and kept as far away as possible, to respect safety distancing as possible. The actors and actresses are asked to wear their masks and protective gloves at all times, except before cameras.

Egypt has even banned any public religious gatherings during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan starting within a few days “to counter the spread of the new coronavirus”, according to a government statement.

Muslims usually break the fast at sunset together with their families, go to the mosque to pray and spend maximum time with relatives. People will still fast in Ramadan as this ritual that had no link to the coronavirus, said a committee of scholars at Cairo’s al-Azhar university, Egypt’s highest religious authority and one of the world’s most eminent seats of Sunni Muslim learning.

Only the usual exemptions apply, it said in a statement. Travel or sickness are reasons not to fast. But with health experts recommending social-distancing measures during the global coronavirus crisis, Egypt will ban any gatherings and public iftars – fast-breaking meals – as well as collective social activities, the ministry of Islamic endowments said in a separate statement.

Typically, mass iftars are held for poor people. The ban will also apply to the seclusion of Itikaf when Muslims spend the last 10 days of the month in mosques to pray and meditate, the ministry said.

The Egyptian Awqaf Ministry a few days ago announced that it decided to halt all congregational activities during the fasting month of Ramadan. Among the activities banned in Ramadan are the Tarawih prayers, performed after Isha prayers during the holy month; for-free mass iftar meals, a tradition Muslims take part in to provide food for the poor during the holy month in the vicinity of mosques or their surrounding space; and I’tikaf, seclusion for worship during the last ten days of Ramadan.

In a statement, the ministry said that the decision is “part of efforts for fighting coronavirus”, adding that the for-free Iftar meals in mosques will also be banned. The ministry added that mosques will remain closed during the fasting month of Ramadan as long as coronavirus cases are detected in the country.

Mosques will be opened when the Health Ministry announces that there is not even one coronavirus case in Egypt, according to the statement, adding that any violator of the decision of closing mosques will be punished. Meanwhile, gatherings related to crew shootings for serials to be premiered during the Muslims’ holy month of Ramadan are still allowed.

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