Photo circulating of busy mosque was taken before lockdown

31st Mar 2020

Claim

An image shows Muslims queueing to get into a mosque, standing closer than two metres apart, after the lockdown was announced.

Conclusion

The picture was taken the Friday before lockdown measures were announced. Lockdown measures were announced on Monday 23 March, and included places of worship being told to close.

We’ve seen a number of posts on Facebook claiming to show people outside a mosque in Leeds after the most recent Covid-19 lockdown measures came into force. The picture shows people bunched up in a queue, far closer than the two metres set out in the government’s rules.

The picture is real but was taken before the government restricted people from travelling to places of worship.

The picture was taken by a local media outlet, South Leeds Life, of mosque Masjid Ibraheem, on Friday 20 March

At this point, the UK public had been asked, but not forced, to keep away from pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants. As far back as 16 March, the Prime Minister had advised people to “stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel”.

Three days after the picture was taken, Boris Johnson announced in a TV address on Monday 23 March that people were, with some exceptions, only allowed to leave their homes to:

  • shop for basic necessities,
  • undertake one form of exercise per day
  • if there was a medical need, or to provide care to a vulnerable person
  • or travelling to work but only where necessary and if it can’t be done from home.

Places of worship were also ordered to close on this date, along with restaurants, cafes, pubs, clubs, and a number of retail stores.

Although places of worship are now closed, there are some exceptions for close family, or in some cases friends, going to funerals, although social distancing must still be observed. At the time of writing, ministers of religion and worship leaders can still leave their homes to travel to places of worship, and if services like food banks run out of them, these can remain open.