Umrah performers wearing masks on Sunday performed the Umrah pilgrimage in Makkah, committed to paths that respect the measures of physical distancing, amid intense health precautions, with the Saudi authorities partially resuming the rituals suspended for 7 months due to the emerging Corona virus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Thousands of worshipers entered the Grand Mosque in Makkah Al-Mukarramah to circumambulate around the Holy Kaaba.
The Umrah, which can be performed at any time throughout the year, attracts millions of Muslims from around the world every year, but was suspended in March as part of the unprecedented precautionary measures taken to limit the spread of the pandemic.
On September 23, the Saudi Ministry of Interior announced that it would allow the resumption of Umrah through 3 stages, starting with permitting the performance of Umrah for citizens and residents inside the Kingdom on October 4, and a month later for pilgrims and visitors from outside it.
In a first step, 6 thousand pilgrims will perform the Umrah per day. Last week, the Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Muhammad Benten, told the Saudi TV Al-Ikhbariya channel, “In the first stage, the performance of Umrah will be accurate and within a specified period,” noting that the pilgrims “will be divided into groups to enter the Grand Mosque.”
The Saudi Press Agency stated that the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque had taken “many precautionary measures.”
The Holy Mosque will be sterilized 10 times a day, before each group enters and after it leaves. It will also prevent access to the Kaaba and the Black Stone. One of the pilgrims will also be “preparing places for isolation in the event that symptoms of Corona appear”.
Each group of 20 or 25 pilgrims will accompany health facilities, and medical teams will be assigned to intervene if necessary. The authorities in Makkah stated that devices were installed to measure the temperatures of pilgrims.
On October 18, the number of pilgrims from citizens and residents inside the Kingdom will increase to about 15,000 pilgrims, and 40,000 worshipers will be allowed to enter the Grand Mosque in Mecca to perform prayers.
On the first of next month, those coming from abroad will be allowed to enter, and the capacity will be raised to 20,000 pilgrims per day, and 60,000 people will be allowed to perform prayers on the campus.
The Saudi Ministry of Health will decide which countries to come from based on the absence of health risks related to the emerging corona virus.
The Ministry affirmed that the fourth phase will only begin “when the competent authority decides to eliminate the risks of the pandemic,” at which time the percentage will be raised to 100% of the “natural absorptive capacity” of the Two Holy Mosques.
And Saturday, the Saudi Ministry of Health said in a statement that it had recorded 27 deaths from Corona, 419 injuries, and 626 recoveries, during the past 24 hours.
The ministry stated that the total number of injuries reached 335,997, including 4,850 deaths, and 320,974 cases of recovery.