Saudi to allow only ‘vaccinated’ pilgrims into two holy mosques

Riyadh: Saudi authorities announced on Monday that they will only allow people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to perform the Umrah and as well as prayers at Grand Mosque in Makkah and Prophets Mosque in Madinah during Ramadan.

The country’s Hajj and Umrah ministry said in a statement that three categories of people would be considered ‘Vaccinated’ are those who have received two doses of the vaccine, those administered a single dose at least 14 days prior, and people who have recovered from the infection.

The Ministry said that permits would be issued via the Umrah App ‘Eatmarna’ and ‘Tawakkalna’ to those people only whose status on the Health App shows ‘Immune.’

In March, Saudi Arabia announced the opening of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet Mosque this year to perform Taraweeh prayers, but with precautionary measures.

While the ministry confirmed on Twitter that these measures will be applied only during the month of Ramadan, the statement on the government news agency did not specify the time period, and only said that it would start on the first day of Ramadan.

Last October, the Saudi authorities opened the Grand Mosque in Makkah to worshipers for the first time after a 7-month closure, and resumed Umrah rituals, amid easing restrictions imposed to limit the outbreak of the Corona virus.

The precautionary measures also included the Hajj, whose performance last year was limited to about 10 thousand pilgrims, all from inside the Kingdom, while the previous year witnessed the performance of about 2.5 million pilgrims.

It is noteworthy that millions of Muslims from around the world perform the Umrah rituals annually that can be performed at any time throughout the year, but this ritual was suspended in March of last year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Saudi Arabia has reported more than 393,000 COVID-19 infections and 6,700 deaths from Covid-19.

The kingdom’s health ministry said it has administered more than five million COVID-19 vaccines, in a country with a population of over 34 million.