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Pilgrims Return To Mecca After Saudi Arabia Eases COVID-19 Restrictions

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Riyadh: The Saudi Arabian authorities resumed on late Saturday the Umrah pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, the kingdom’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said.

Riyadh had suspended the pilgrimage for foreign and domestic Muslims in March, after Saudi Arabia reported its first COVID-19 case.

At the early stages, only 6,000 pilgrims per day will be allowed to access the Kaaba. In a bid to avoid crowds, they must schedule their visits in advance using an app and are granted three hours inside.

“The resumption of the Umrah pilgrimage will take place in four stages, during the first stage it will resume from October 4 only by 30 per cent, the second stage will begin on October 18 with a 75 per cent participation of willing pilgrims, and from November 1, Umrah will gradually begin to accept the participation of all interested pilgrims from within the country and from abroad, 100 per cent conducting of Umrah, as it was before, depends on when the end of the pandemic is announced or when the danger disappears,” the ministry told the Saudi Press Agency.

More than 1,08,000 foreign and local pilgrims, who are in the country, have now received permission to take part in Umrah.

Protective measures, such as disinfection and social distancing, will be taken during the pilgrimage.

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