The Holy Month of Ramadan is right around the corner, and we can’t help but wonder how the Coronavirus pandemic is going to affect it. From closures of mosques to cancellation of lavish Ramadan tents, lockdown restrictions and self-isolation are going to bring a rather different flavor to Ramadan festivities this year.

It does sound like it’s going to be a bleak month, but the essence of Ramadan – fasting, praying, self-reflection, feasting with family and giving back – would still remain the same.

Here’s how you can spend Ramadan this year and make best of the current situation…

Shopping for Ramadan supplies

Shopping for Ramadan supplies, food and groceries is going to be very different this year. But don’t let the lockdown restrictions and closure of malls and shops dampen your festive spirit. There are still plenty of online supermarkets, grocery shopping apps, and fashion and lifestyle shopping websites working harder than ever to meet your needs during this time.

However, you must remember to place orders in advance to avoid facing delayed deliveries. So if you haven’t stocked up on Vimto, dates and laban already, get started right away! And if you must visit a supermarket in person, make sure you follow standard safety guidelines – Maintaining a distance of 2 meters from other shoppers, avoiding peak hours, and using debit/credit cards to avoid cash exchange, among other precautions.

Deals and discounts to ease your financial burden

With a number of residents reeling under the financial impact of the lockdown, finances may be tight for many this year. So promotions, discounts and deals on shopping for groceries and other festive essentials are going to be a welcome relief for shoppers across the country. Supermarkets like Carrefour, LuLu Hypermarket, Union Coop and Almaya are making Ramadan shopping more affordable by launching bundle offers and up-front discounts. LuLu has gone one step further to make festive shopping even more convenient, by offering pre-packed Ramadan kits, and tying up with Careem and Dubai Taxi to ensure smoother deliveries.

Fasting during lockdown

Fasting for most people may actually be easier this year. Especially if you’re working from home, you can conserve your energy better. Let’s keep in mind that our frontline warriors during this pandemic – Doctors, nurses and other medical staff are going to be exempt from fasting to make sure their efficiency and immunity isn’t compromised. The guidelines issued by the UAE Fatwa Council, also exempt Covid-19 patients from fasting.

Iftar in the time of social distancing

With the obvious restrictions on visiting hotels and restaurants, the UAE has also cancelled all permits for Ramadan tents offering Suhoor and Iftar meals this year. So you’ll just have to break your fast at home with your family. But thanks to video chats and Zoom calls, you can still have a feast with all your closest friends and relatives joining you virtually.

Praying amid lockdown restrictions

Performing prayers, especially the special evening prayer ‘Taraweeh’, is going to be drastically different this Holy month. Hopefully, we’ll see the pandemic situation improve in the coming few weeks, but for now, it looks like Muslims will simply have to pray at home. With the current restrictions on communal prayers & mosque closures, the UAE Fatwa Council has clarified that evening prayers must be performed individually at home. Prayers cannot be performed right outside of mosques either.