The Coronavirus pandemic brought the whole world to a halt with Saudi Arabia having to put a stop to the Umrah pilgrimage. And now, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry has said that the year-round umrah pilgrimage for Muslims is all set to resume from October 4. This will bring an end to the seven-month suspension because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It was earlier this year in March that Umrah was suspended, after which the Kingdom also scaled back the annual Hajj amid fears that the Coronavirus could spread to Islam’s holiest sites. This year, in the Kingdom’s first, only around 10,000 people who already reside in Saudi Arabia were allowed to participate in the annual pilgrimage.
The Kingdom is all set to commence Umrah in stages and in the first stage, “6,000 citizens and residents within the kingdom will be allowed to perform the umrah per day from October 4”, the ministry said in a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency.
Visitors from outside the kingdom will be permitted from November 1, when they will officially increase the capacity and will be raised to 20,000 pilgrims per day, the ministry added.
The Umrah attracts millions of Muslims from across the globe each year. Earlier, the ministry had said that Umrah would be allowed to resume at full “natural capacity” once the threat of the pandemic is eliminated. Muslims around the world have been eager to head back to the holy site to commence the ritual.
Following Hajj 2020, health authorities said no coronavirus cases were reported at the holy sites during the Hajj and Muslims circled the Holy Kaaba with social distancing measures in place. Pilgrims were also subjected to regular temperature checks and were required to into mandatory quarantine after the ritual.
Last week, Saudi Arabia partially lifted its suspension on international flights, six months after travel curbs were imposed due to the pandemic.