The Ministry of Health and Prevention, MoHAP, and the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, NCEMA, have announced a set of protocols for regulating social events and gatherings which are aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the highest levels of prevention and safety approved by the health authorities.

The protocols set rules for weddings and other family occasions where first degree attendees of both families should not exceed ten persons, provided that they conduct a COVID-19 test 24 hours before the event.

According to the protocol, open buffets are not permitted, single-use utensils and cups for eating and drinking are recommended, while all surfaces and areas should be sanitised frequently. Additionally, hand sanitisers should be widely available at events.

MoHAP and NCEMA stressed the importance of adhering to preventive and precautionary measures in these occasions while warning event organisers of the importance of strict monitoring and the imposition of fines in case of violations of these protocols.

These measures include ensuring distancing of no less than two meters between people, monitoring symptoms and avoiding attendance in the event of respiratory symptoms or fever, and preparing an isolation room in the event of a suspected case of COVID-19 infection.

Preventive measures also include general awareness of how diseases spread, washing of hands, and the etiquette of sneezing and coughing, in addition to advising people with chronic diseases and the elderly not to attend such events.

The authorities also explain in the protocols, the preventive measures recommended at funerals and associated services such as prayers, while stressing on the necessity of wearing face masks for workers in cemeteries, disinfecting the tools used before and after the burial of the deceased, washing hands frequently, and using approved disinfectants that contain at least 60 - 80% alcohol.

The protocol allows only ten persons to attend the funeral service, reduces the number of people responsible for digging to two, and pallbearers to between 4 to 8.

Workers in the cemetery must disclose any respiratory symptoms and avoid attending the funeral. Awareness posters related to COVID-19 should be posted at the cemetery gate, and relatives of the deceased should be educated about the preventive measures.

MoHAP and NCEMA noted the necessity of the presence of supervisors from the competent authorities to ensure that health requirements are not violated in the cemetery, and security personnel should be at hand to prevent overcrowding and to prevent exceeding the number of allowed attendees.