ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Friday announced two holidays for the upcoming Youm-e-Ashura. The government has declared August 18 and 19 as public holidays to mark Youm-e-Ashura, said a notification from the Ministry of Interior. Earlier this week, the Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee sighted the Muharram-ul-Haram moon, which rings in the new Islamic year, 1443 AH. Youm-e-Ashura will be marked on August 19. Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Chairman Moulana Syed Muhammad Abdul Khabir Azad had presided over the meeting, which took place at the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Quetta. Representatives from the Central and Zonal Ruet-e-Hilal Committees, Pakistan Meteorological Department officials, Ministry of Science and Technology, and Ministry of Religious Affairs and Harmony were present in the meeting. Muharram: NCOC announces special guidelines to guard against spread of COVID-19 A day after the Muharram moon was sighted, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) announced special guidelines to guard against the spread of COVID-19 during Muharram. According to the NCOC, the guidelines have been issued keeping in view the various recommendations forwarded by the ulema. The NCOC statement stressed that all majalis (gatherings) and juloos (processions) must be held in accordance with the government-mandated coronavirus safety protocols. This means that during majalis and juloos, all participants must ensure they wear a mask and maintain social distancing. The organisers, for their part, must use thermal screening devices to check the temperatures of participants before permitting them entry. They must also guarantee the provision of hand sanitisers and masks to those without any. The NCOC said that all gatherings must be held in large places that are well ventilated, adding that private gatherings at homes must be avoided. According to the NCOC, the administration may use the services of Razakars for the enforcement of coronavirus safety protocols, if needed. It mandated the display of all coronavirus safety precautions in clearly visible places throughout the majalis venues and juloos routes. The Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee on Monday sighted the Muharram-ul-Haram moon, which rang in the new Islamic year, 1443 AH. Consequently, the first of Muharram begins today. The 9th of Muharram will be observed on Wednesday, August 18, and Youm-e-Ashura will be marked on August 19.