Mecca reopens after Saudi Arabia eases Covid-19 restrictions

New Delhi (NVI): Saudi authorities have eased Covid-19 restrictions and resumed the year-round Umrah pilgrimage in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, as a very small and limited number of people circled the sacred Kaaba today.

The Mecca shrine was opened after seven-month coronavirus hiatus.

Worshippers entered the grand mosque in batches and offered prayers while maintaining social distancing, reports in foreign media said.

Millions of Muslims from across the globe throng the holy site to perform the annual umrah, pilgrimage that can be undertaken any time, but it was suspended after the coronavirus pandemic gathered pace in March.

The Muslim holy place was shut since March to prevent the Covid-19 transmission.

According to Saudi authorities, Umrah will be allowed from Sunday. However, in the first phase, only 6000 pilgrims per day would be allowed.  During this phase, only the residents and citizens within Saudi Arabia would be allowed to perform Umrah. The pilgrimage also involves circumambulation around the cube-shaped black monument Kaaba.

Saudi authorities have also said that the devout would be allowed in carefully crated batches and they would follow social distancing modules. The Kaba circumambulation would also begin from today, as per the Saudi authorities.

-ARK