Coronavirus

Scott Morrison urges Australia's Muslims to obey coronavirus restrictions during Ramadan

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, April 23, 2020. Source: AAP

The holy month of Ramadan will begin on Friday, but authorities are warning Muslim communities around the country it cannot be observed as usual.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged members of Australia's Muslim community to maintain social distancing protocols ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, which begins on Friday. 

In a prerecorded video distributed on Thursday, Mr Morrison acknowledged the unprecedented restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus would prove challenging for those trying to observe Ramadan. 

“The holy month of Ramadan is a time of special devotion for Muslims across the world. It’s a time of fasting and prayer, as well as reflection and renewal. However, this year will be very different as we all experience a global health crisis,” he said.

Mr Morrison said the pandemic “requires us all to defend lives”.

“This year Iftars will only be with those you live with,” he said.

“Like you, I wish it could be different. But we all must be mindful of our duty to each other: to keep people safe.

“Today, the world is more in need than ever of the hope and strength of spirit that faith imparts. So I encourage all of you in the Muslim community to stay strong.”

0:00

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian issued similar pleas to the state's Muslim community on Thursday morning.

"Just as Easter was a difficult time for many families across the state, including my own, where people abandoned what they normally do, I say to our friends in the Muslim community: please, please respect the restrictions during this time," Ms Berejiklian said.

"I know, for many of you, the holy month of Ramadan will have special significance, because it is a month about sacrifice and family, and this year more than ever that sacrifice will really test everybody." 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian joined an Eid al-Fitr celebration last to year mark the end of Ramadan.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian joined an Eid al-Fitr celebration last to year mark the end of Ramadan.
AAP

On Wednesday, NSW tested 5,600 people for COVID-19 and only five returned positive tests.

Those numbers were a steep decline from 27 March, when NSW logged a record of 212 new cases in just 24 hours.

But, despite the significant fall in the number of new cases, the premier said gatherings between families would still pose a risk of spreading the virus. 

"I know it’s so difficult for you, but even having members of extended families going to households of other extended family members is a high risk of spreading the virus - we just cannot allow it to happen," Ms Berejiklian said.

"Please know you’re not alone, these are the types of restrictions everyone around the world is having to face and, especially during this time, we don't want to see those closest to you get the virus because they haven't stuck to the rules." 

0:00

Muslims observing Ramadan fast during daylight hours and would usually gather with friends and family each evening to break their fast over a meal known as Iftar.

The month would also usually see the community congregate in mosques to pray together, which is also no longer permitted under Australia's social distancing restrictions. 

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

Additional reporting by Evan Young.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch