Muslims open Ramadan with social distanced prayers, vaccines

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Muslims in Indonesia began marking Ramadan with communal prayers in a socially distanced contrast to the empty mosques of a year ago when Islam’s holiest month coincided with the start of the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 cases are spiking in the world’s most populous Muslim nation, but vaccines are being administered and the government is loosening restrictions. Mosques were disinfected and markers were placed to keep social distance. Restaurants can serve “iftar” feasts with health guidelines in place. The Health Ministry will maintain Indonesia’s vaccine rollout through Ramadan, and clerics issued assurances the vaccine would not break the Ramadan fast.