People will not be able to visit the cemetery at night during March as part of an Islamic tradition due to Covid restrictions.
Every year people attend the cemetery late at night as part of the Shab-e-Baraat and Shab-e-Meraj traditions when people pray beside the graves of their loved ones. In previous years small congregations have gathered and these have been led by some local imams.
A joint statement from the Lancashire Council of Mosques, Blackburn with Darwen Council and the Blackburn Muslim Burial Society said: “We respect it is tradition for the Muslim community to visit the cemetery to offer prayers for their loved ones and the Ummah. We acknowledge these are very special nights in the Islamic Calendar.
“On behalf of the Blackburn with Darwen Council, Lancashire Council of Mosques and Blackburn Muslim Burial Society we would like to inform you that due to the Covid restrictions Pleasington cemetery will be closed during the night on Thursday 11 March, Friday 12 March. Saturday 27 March, Sunday 28 March and Monday 29 March.
“The cemetery will remain open during the day from 10am to 4.30pm and as of 1 April the cemetery will open from 10am to 8.30pm.”
The statement goes on to add, “Kindly follow the latest Covid guidance, social distancing and avoid congregating at all times whilst at the cemetery.”
Earlier this week as more places of worship prepare to open for congregational prayers and services from 8 March, the three Directors of Public Health for Lancashire had also written to all faith leaders to offer further public health advice.
Prof Dominic Harrison, Director of Public Health for Blackburn with Darwen, said “When England went into lockdown in early January, religious services and communal prayers were still allowed. However we strongly advised all places of worship to temporarily suspend these activities, because of the high virus rates we were seeing locally and the transmission of new Coronavirus variants.
“Now, we’re advising places of worship that they can resume collective worship from 8 March, and offering them help to review their risk assessments and update their COVID-secure arrangements if necessary.
“We’re getting a good grip on the virus now and we need all places of worship to remain vigilant and ensure their arrangements are robust enough to protect their congregations.”
In Blackburn with Darwen, the Council’s Public Protection team is giving support to all places of worship that may need to review their risk assessments in the light of new virus variants.
Spot checks are also taking place to monitor compliance at places of worship, similar to at workplaces and in shops.