The red flags on the holy shrines in Karbala, Iraq, have been replaced with black ones, to mark the commencement of Moharram 1442. The flag changing ceremony on the night of Moharram’s new moon holds great significance, as every year, it is attended by thousands of local and foreign pilgrims who flock to Karbala to commemorate Ashura.However, due to COVID-19 this year, the administration of the holy shrines earlier announced the suspension of flag changing ceremonies. Steps to reduce the spread of virus, including disinfection and sterilization campaigns and placement of social distancing markers on carpets, have been taken by Al Kafeel – shrine management.Every year, millions of pilgrims from all over the world gather in Karbala to observe Ashura, but this year it would not be possible, as the Iraqi government has imposed restrictions on outsiders, to contain the spread of Covid-19. The office of Sayyid Ali Sistani apologized to visitors from other countries, stating that to ensure public health and safety, this year only Iraqi pilgrims will attend Ashura in Karbala. According to reports, only 25 Pakistanis have been allowed to visit Karbala this year, with special permission granted by the Iraqi government.The shrines management has urged mourners across the globe to observe Moharram responsibly and strictly follow SOPs.