Saudi Arabia allows mosques to open for Friday prayers

FILE PHOTO: People perform prayer as they perform social distancing near Kaaba in the Grand Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia April 28, 2020. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia will allow mosques to open for Friday prayers, state TV reported on Tuesday, as the kingdom eases restrictions on movement to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Mosques will be authorised to open 20 minutes before Friday prayers and should close 20 minutes after they finish, state TV said on Twitter, citing the ministry of Islamic affairs.

Saudi authorities said on Monday that restrictions would be lifted in three phases, culminating in a curfew ending - with the exception of the holy city of Mecca - from June 21.

The haj and umrah pilgrimages, which attract millions of travellers from around the world, will remain suspended until further notice.

Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Alison Williams