Saudi Arabia suspended the umrah in March over the worry of unfold of coronavirus.
Masks-clad Muslims circled Islam’s holiest web site alongside socially distanced paths on Sunday, as Saudi authorities partially resumed the year-round umrah pilgrimage amid in depth well being precautions after seven-month coronavirus hiatus.
Hundreds of worshippers entered the Grand Mosque within the holy metropolis of Mecca in batches to carry out the ritual of circling the sacred Kaaba, a cubic construction in direction of which Muslims around the globe pray.
The umrah, the pilgrimage that may be undertaken at any time, normally attracts hundreds of thousands of Muslims from throughout the globe annually however it was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It is going to be revived in three phases, with Saudi Hajj Minister Mohammad Benten saying final week that 6,000 pilgrims per day will probably be allowed within the first stage to carry out the umrah “meticulously and inside a specified time period“.
A raft of precautions have been adopted to thrust back any outbreaks in the course of the umrah, in accordance with state media.
The revered Black Stone within the japanese nook of the Kaaba — which it’s customary however not necessary to the touch in the course of the pilgrimage — will probably be out of attain, whereas the Grand Mosque will probably be sterilised earlier than and after every group of worshippers.
Every group of 20 or 25 pilgrims will probably be accompanied by a well being employee and medical groups will probably be on the bottom in case of an emergency, Benten mentioned.
Below the second stage from October 18, the variety of umrah pilgrims will probably be elevated to 15,000 per day, with a most of 40,000 folks, together with pilgrims and different worshippers, allowed to carry out prayers on the mosque.
Guests from overseas will probably be permitted within the third stage from November 1, when capability will probably be raised to 20,000 and 60,000, respectively.
The choice to renew the pilgrimage was in response to the “aspirations of Muslims residence and overseas” to carry out the ritual and go to the holy websites, the inside ministry mentioned final month.
It added that the umrah can be allowed to return to full capability as soon as the specter of the pandemic has abated.
Till then, the well being ministry will vet international locations from which pilgrims are allowed to enter based mostly on the well being dangers.
Saudi Arabia suspended the umrah in March and scaled again the annual hajj over fears that the coronavirus might unfold to Islam’s holiest cities.
The hajj went forward in late July, on the smallest scale in fashionable historical past, with solely as much as 10,000 Muslims allowed to participate — a far cry from the two.5 million who participated final 12 months.