For seven long months, Muslims were barred from praying inside the Holy Mosque due to coronavirus pandemic.
Today, for Fajr prayer, Saudi Arabia allowed its citizens and residents to pray in the Grand Mosque in Makkah, as part of easing the COVID-19 restrictions.
Photos and videos of the prayer showed long lines of worshippers who observed social distancing restrictions as they prayed, Saudi Gazette reported.
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The new rules comes at the launch of the second phase of the gradual resumption of the pilgrimage and visits to the Two Holy Mosques, which kicks off on October 18.
“The pilgrims should abide by the time slot specified in the permits issued to them and must maintain the deadline for the entry and exit of the Grand Mosque,” a spokesman for the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque had said prior to the start of the second phase.
“As part of the directives, the pilgrims must maintain the physical distance of one and a half meters from each other, wear facemasks, sanitize hands regularly and cooperate with the employees of the presidency and the authorities working to serve pilgrims and worshipers.”
The Saudi officials applied all precautionary measures, using all technical systems and electronic programs to facilitate the procedures and provide full services with all speed and perfection.
The second phases, which concludes on October 31, will see issuing more than 600,000 permits to worshipers to perform prayers at the Grand Mosque along with over 250,000 Umrah pilgrims.
The first phase, from October 4 to 17, saw 15,000 Umrah performers and 40,000 worshipers per day as a maximum.
Since the outbreak of the new coronavirus pandemic, Saudi Arabia has taken drastic measures to halt its spread.
The kingdom held a dramatically downsized, symbolic hajj pilgrimage in July due to concerns that it could easily have become a global super-spreader event for the virus.
Despite taking early and sweeping measures to contain the virus, Saudi Arabia has recorded more than 341,000 cases, including more than 5000 deaths.