With Ramadan less than two months away how do the rule changes affect the Muslim holy month?

When is Ramadan?
In 2021, Ramadan will be from 12/13 April to 12/13 May. Muslims around the world fast during daylight hours, meaning they abstain from eating, drinking or engaging in sexual relations for the duration of their fast. Young children, pregnant women, the old, the sick and travellers are some of those who are exempt from fasting.

How long are fasts?
Fasts are getting shorter but this year will last until 8pm.

What happened in 2020
Mosques and all religious buildings were closed to all worshippers throughout the first lockdown. Mosques held digital prayer sessions where possible. A number of mosques opened their doors to the wider community by acting as food banks with volunteers on hand to distribute much needed essentials to those self-isolating. These were distributed to non-Muslims as well as residents living near the mosques.

What are the rules for mosques now?
Places of worship can remain open for individual prayers and communal worship, but people should only visit with their household or support bubble.
Advice for communal worship states, "You can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship, a funeral or event related to a death, a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding ceremony. 
"You should follow the guidance on the safe use of places of worship and must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble when attending a place of worship.”

Have some mosques closed?
Yes, some major mosques have taken the decision to suspend all prayers during the second lockdown. They  may well reopen for Ramadan.

What will happen for Taraweeh prayers?
A welcome change in 2021 for all will be the return of Taraweeh prayers. Each night (this year at around 9.30pm onwards) during Ramadan, Taraweeh prayers are held at mosques lasting for up to 1 hour and 30 minutes. For the first time ever these prayers were suspended in 2020. 

Prayers can be held as long as they Covid restrictions such as social distancing is in place. Some mosques have had concerns with people congregating outside the mosque after prayers. Mosques hosting Taraweeh prayers may look to impose further measures to ensure late night gatherings outside mosques do not take place.

Family gatherings
Presently there are no changes to the rules with regards to households mixing. During Ramadan families and extended families tend to gather in homes for the opening of the fast in the evening. It is likely families will have to endure the same rulings that were in place unless meeting outdoors.
From May 17 at the earliest, two households or groups of up to six people will be allowed to mix indoors the Government’s road map said.

Outdoor gatherings
From 29 March, outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed. This includes meeting in private gardens. People will not be legally required to stay at home.

What will be open when Ramadan begins?
Non-essential retail, hairdressers and gyms will open in time as Ramadan begins on April 12. Restaurants will be allowed to serve people outdoors.

Can you get a vaccine during Ramadan?
The British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) has said getting a vaccine will not invalidate a fast, as per the opinion of Islamic scholars and added ‘Individuals should not delay their Covid vaccinations on the account of Ramadan’.

What about Eid?
Lockdown restrictions being reviewed every 5 weeks.
Eid in May will certainly be a lot different to Eid in 2020. With mosques being able to host prayers – Eid prayers will take place. Again, numbers may be restricted with several Eid sittings taking place throughout the morning. It is too early to see if larger outdoor gatherings will be permitted.

Could restaurants be fully open for Eid?
Eid will be on or after May 12. A large number of businesses rely heavily on the pre-Eid and post-Eid rush, including major shopping centres such as the Trafford Centre and the Arndale. Retail businesses will be open by May.

Boris Johnson said step three will begin no earlier than May 17, and most restrictions on meeting outdoors will be lifted, subject to a limit of 30.