Indonesia will gradually reopen places of worship with strict protocols after being closed for weeks due to the novel coronavirus, the country’s president said Tuesday.

Joko Widodo said social distancing rules should be implemented as the government has not been able to fully wipe out the virus from the country.

He said that public activity will resume in phases.

Earlier, the Religious Affairs Ministry issued new guidelines for places of worship, which are set to reopen in areas that are declared safe from the deadly virus.

In a circular published on Friday, Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi said the new guidelines were issued in response to people’s desire to pray at their respective places of worship.

“Houses of worship should set the best example on curbing the spread of COVID-19,” said Razi, adding that they should obtain a permit form local authorities before opening their doors to worshipers.

The guidelines also require the enforcement of rigorous health procedures, including the deployment of special officer in charge of monitoring physical distancing and the installation of sanitation facilities at the entrances and exits of all places of worship.

The Southeast Asian country reported a total of 26,940 virus cases and 1,641 fatalities on Monday.

*Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo from Anadolu Agency’s Indonesian language services in Jakarta.

Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.