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International Pilgrims Return to Makkah for Umrah

Saudi Arabia welcomed Sunday, November 1, 10,000 foreign Muslim pilgrims into the Grand Mosque in Makkah for the first time since coronavirus restrictions were imposed seven months ago.

According to Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Amr Al-Maddah, the pilgrims arrived Saudi in the first day of the third stage of the resumption of Umrah, Arab News reported.

They had to self-isolate for three days after arrival before allowing them to circumambulate around the Ka`bah – the holiest site in Islam – in the center of the Grand Mosque.

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Those pilgrims will spend 10 days in the kingdom, three of which will be in isolation.

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Pilgrims must have a health guide provided by Umrah companies to monitor each group throughout their visit. Pilgrims must also have full health insurance that includes emergency treatment if infected and a possible PCR test.

The new Umrah protocol includes allowing 500 groups of international pilgrims throughout the day, each with 20 pilgrims. The maximum age limit for international pilgrims is 50.

Third Phase

On the other hand, the third phase will see the holy mosques in Makkah and Madinah fully operating.

Despite taking early and sweeping measures to contain the virus, Saudi Arabia has reported 347,282 cases of Covid-19. Saudi also reported 5,402 deaths since the pandemic started, and 333,842 recoveries.  

It is phasing the reopening of its mosques as part of a gradual easing of restrictions across the kingdom.

Saudi residents resumed performing the Umrah in October. Numbers increased later to accommodate pilgrims from abroad.