Social distancing re-imposed at Ka’batullah, Prophet’s Mosque

Riyadh: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday announced the re-imposition of social distancing at the two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah, starting from 7 am on Thursday, 26 Jumada Al Ula 1443, amid a significant rise in COVID-19 cases worldwide, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Social distancing will be applied between worshipers, redistribution of carpets, and distribution of pilgrims on virtual circumambulation paths, in order to achieve the application of precautionary measures in order to preserve the health and safety of the pilgrims.

Earlier on Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior (MoI) said that all citizens must wear masks at all times and maintain social distance to limit the spread of the new COVID-19 variant— Omicron, effective from Thursday, December 30, 2021.

“We have directed the reimposition for the public to wear masks and apply social distancing measures in all places (closed and open), activities and events,” the ministry adds.

Those who do not abide by the regulations will face charges, the ministry said. It also urged the public to ensure they are vaccinated against the virus.

Saudi Arabia’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 are rapidly increasing due to the omicron variant, with infections more than doubling in a week.

The Kingdom on Wednesday reported 744 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 554,665. The country reported one death. There are 43 critical COVID-19 cases in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly stressed the importance of receiving the necessary vaccine doses and booster shots, while also emphasizing the importance for children who were eligible to get the vaccine to come forward and do so.

So far, more than 5.02 crore have been vaccinated in the Kingdom.

On December 20, Saudi Arabia saud in early December that COVID-19 vaccine boosters would be considered as a condition for entering public places such as shops, cafes and other meeting places, starting from February 1.

Those who have not received the booster shot more than eight months after their second vaccine dose will no longer be considered ‘immune’ in the Kingdom’s contact-tracing Tawakkalna app from February 2.

On December 21, Health authorities began administering the COVID-19 vaccine to children between the ages of five and eleven. Priority is being given to those who are considered vulnerable and at high risk from the virus.

On October 17, due to a consequential decline in COVID-19 cases and a considerable development in vaccinations in the Kingdom, the interior ministry of Saudi Arabia eased COVID-19 restrictions.

The relaxed measures include ending distancing for worshippers in the two holy mosques in Makkah and Madinah, where full capacity has been reinstated. However, worshippers are still required to continue wearing face masks at both mosques.