Millions of Muslims around the world began observing the holy month of Ramadan on Tuesday, an introspective time of dawn-to-dusk fasts and prayer followed by communal feasts and family gatherings — and this year, once again, coronavirus restrictions.

Last year’s Ramadan arrived during the world’s first round of pandemic-related lockdowns. In many countries mosques, like other places of worship, were closed and cut off Muslims from the communal prayers, meals and charity work that distinguish the month-long holiday.

This year, some conditions have eased: Mosques in many countries have reopened, and clerics in places including Saudi Arabia and Indonesia have emphasized that it is permitted to receive coronavirus vaccine shots while fasting.

But much of the world remains under some form of social restriction as new surges, driven by virus variants, continue to necessitate limits on movement and gatherings.

The revered al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem was shut last Ramadan because of the pandemic. This year, it is open to worshipers who wear masks and maintain social distance. Still, Jerusalem is far quieter than in past years, without the usual influx of visitors and pilgrims because of border restrictions.

In Israel, Muslims with a “green pass,” or proof of vaccination, are allowed to gather in larger groups than those without one. But in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where vaccine shots remain limited, a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. is in place; this prevents communal gatherings for iftar, the meal eaten at sunset to break the fast, and suhoor, the pre-fast meal eaten before sunrise.

In Saudi Arabia a limited number of worshipers who have been vaccinated or recently recovered from covid-19 are allowed to enter the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, the second holiest site in Islam, or the Kabba in Mecca, Islam’s most sacred site.

Iftar gatherings in Saudi Arabia this year are also limited to only 20 people.

Pakistan recorded a surge in cases last year, which public health experts said was due in part to the government letting mosques remain open during Ramadan and not enforcing social distancing restrictions. This year cases are once again surging, and doctors have called on the government to keep mosques closed.

Despite public health worries, mosques in Pakistan will remain open, though worshipers must wear masks and be under 50 years of age.

In countries facing economic crises, such as Lebanon and Syria, the costs of food, gas and electricity are soaring. With basic needs already unmet, many will not be able to afford to celebrate this year.

In Iraq, Malaysia and India, public health officials have warned that longer curfews or more restrictions could be put in place if infection rates spike and limits on movement and gatherings are not followed, the Associated Press reported.

In Egypt, restaurants this year are allowed to host limited iftar gatherings. But the government has banned evening sports tournaments, as well as street banquets traditionally held to feed the poor. Worshipers at mosques have been told to bring their own prayer mats.

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