The kingdom announced on Sunday that it will reopen its holy sites to receive pilgrims after the end of Hajj rituals.
Saudi Arabia announced it has re-opened Muslim holy sites for the Umrah pilgrimage as of Sunday after the conclusion of the Hajj pilgrimage, according to state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
“The Grand Mosque is ready to receive pilgrims and worshippers for Umrah” said the deputy head of the affairs of the Grand Mosque, Saad bin Muhammad al-Muhaimid.
Al-Muhaimid said pilgrims will be received in accordance with the necessary precautionary measures that will ensure the safety of visitors to the Grand Mosque.
Umrah is a voluntary minor pilgrimage that Muslims can perform at any time of the year. In February of 2020, it was suspended over fears of the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.
However later, in October 2020, Saudi authorities re-opened Muslim holy sites for Umrah after a six-month pause. It was limited to Saudis and foreign residents of the kingdom who were allowed to perform the ritual at the Grand Mosque at a 30 per cent capacity, meaning only 6,000 people per day.
The latest update comes just days after pilgrims concluded the annual Hajj pilgrimage – considered the major of the two pilgrimages.
This year’s Hajj welcomed only 60,000 people from within the Saudi Arabia’s own borders due to the ongoing risks from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Authorities declared a “successful” end to the annual event, noting no Covid-19 cases were recorded.
“I would like to announce that this Hajj was successful, with neither coronavirus infection nor any other epidemic diseases reported,” Saudi Minister of Health Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said.
In 2020, Saudi authorities limited Hajj pilgrimage to 10,000 Muslims due to the pandemic.
Prior to Covid-19, some 2.5 million pilgrims from around the world would visit Islam’s two holiest sites in Mecca and Medina for the week-long pilgrimage.