Muslim American Society of Minnesota say its mosques, centers will stay closed for now

Restrictions have been loosened for houses of worship, but some are reluctant to open.
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The Muslim American Society of Minnesota is the latest religious organization to announce it will not reopen for worship despite loosened restrictions that come into force Wednesday.

The organization says its three Islamic Centers in Minnesota will remain closed until the rate of COVID-19 infections "are reliably reported to decline."

Gov. Tim Walz announced on Saturday that houses of worship can reopen at 25 percent capacity, following pressure from the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in Minnesota, which said they intended to reopen in defiance of his Stay Safe Minnesota order.

But in a statement on its website, the MAS has joined a growing number who say it's not yet safe to reopen, with the Minnesota Rabbinical Association having said the same on Thursday.

Others that have announced that worship will stay virtual for now includes the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in St. Paul, which is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

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"The temporary closing of Islamic centers and masjids has been significant challenge and trial that is impacting the spiritual and social well being of the Muslim American community," MAS said.

"Moreover, the health risks posed by COVID-19 remain significant and credible to individuals, families and communities — and will likely continue for months.

"After extensive consultation with public health experts, scholars, and Muslim community members, MAS MN has decided that our affiliated masjids and places of worship will remain closed for the time being."

Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Thursday that religious gatherings "can pose some special risks because of who's in the congregations," noting the older parishioners who are among the most vulnerable to serious illness if they contract COVID-19. 

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