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Saudi Arabia announces new Umrah measures

September 29, 2020 at 8:02 pm

Few worshippers performing al-Fajr prayer at the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque complex in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca on June 23, 2020 [STR/AFP via Getty Images]

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced fresh measures for the Umrah pilgrimage, which was suspended for six months due to the coronavirus outbreak.

As part of the COVID-19 measures, the barricade placed around the Kaaba and the holy Black Stone will remain in its place and visitors will be prevented from touching them, the official SPA news agency reported.

Masjid al-Haram, where the Kaaba is located, will be disinfected 10 times a day, SPA said, adding that quarantine rooms were already prepared for visitors showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Saudi Arabia announced last week that it will gradually lift a coronavirus-related travel ban for the Umrah pilgrimage starting early next month.

The decision to allow the resumption of Umrah, or the minor pilgrimage undertaken by Muslims, came after a nearly six-month hiatus.

As of October 4, Saudis and foreign residents of the kingdom will be allowed to perform Umrah at the Masjid al-Haram, or Grand Mosque, in Makkah at a 30% capacity or 6,000 people per day.

Meanwhile, as of October 18, the Gulf kingdom will allow 15,000 pilgrims per day to perform Umrah and prayers at Al-Masjid al-Nabawi, or the Prophet’s Mosque, in Madinah.

READ: Saudi Arabia prepares for ‘exceptional Hajj’ due to COVID-19

The SPA said both local and international worshippers coming for Umrah and worship will be accepted as of November 1, while the Masjid al-Haram and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi will be opened for worship at full capacity by taking COVID-19 protective measures.

Due to the pandemic, the Hajj pilgrimage this year was limited to those living in Saudi Arabia, and pilgrims from abroad were not accepted.

Umrah is the Islamic pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah that Muslims can undertake at any time of the year.