Saudi Arabia to allow in vaccinated Umrah pilgrims

Saudi Arabia lifts immunization check at two holy mosques

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The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah scrapped the immunization status check for people entering the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah from Thursday.

The ministry reviewed the most important developments related to the Covid-19 pandemic before lifting the precautionary measures against the spread of the coronavirus in the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque.

The ministry also cancelled the requirement of registering immunization data to obtain an Umrah permit for pilgrims from outside the Kingdom.

Permits are no longer required to pray at the Grand Mosque or visit the Prophet’s Mosque but it is still mandatory to obtain permits for performing Umrah and visit AlRawdah AlSharifa in the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.

All social distancing measures in the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque are cancelled but wearing masks is still mandatory.

The ministry also noted the abolition of the requirement to submit a PCR test upon arrival for foreign pilgrims and the abolition of the requirement of institutional quarantine and home quarantine for pilgrims coming from outside the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia to allow in vaccinated Umrah pilgrims

Saudi Arabia is to begin accepting vaccinated foreign visitors to the holy city of Mecca as part of the Umrah pilgrimage.

The authorities will begin taking travel requests from Monday.

The kingdom closed its borders some 18 months ago because of the coronavirus pandemic. Since 1 August, vaccinated foreign tourists are also allowed in.

Last month, only around 60,000 vaccinated residents were allowed to take part in a scaled-down Hajj.

In pictures: Masks and social distancing at Hajj
The Hajj is a pilgrimage to Mecca that Muslims who are able to must perform at least once in their lifetime. It takes place at a set time of year: in 2022, it will run from 7 to 12 July.

The Umrah pilgrimage can be undertaken at any time of the year and attracts millions from around the world. Pilgrims may also visit the holy city of Medina.

Saudi Arabia will initially allow 60,000 pilgrims to perform the pilgrimage each month, gradually increasing numbers to reach two million people a month, the state Saudi Press Agency SPA says.

Saudi Arabia recognises the following vaccines: Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Foreign visitors will also have to agree to undergo quarantine if necessary, the SPA quotes deputy hajj minister Abdulfattah bin Sulaiman Mashat as saying.

The country has recorded nearly 532,000 coronavirus cases and more than 8,300 deaths.

Separately, it has also said it will begin compensating the families of health workers who died because of the coronavirus, state media reported.

Last year, it said each would receive 500,000 riyals ($133,000; £96,000).