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Pandemic Restrictions Reinstated at Makkah’s Grand Mosque

Amid the heightened fears and anxiety about the Omicron variant, Saudi officials have reinstated social distancing measures at the Grand Mosque in Makkah after recording the highest number of infections in months, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.

According to the new measures, masks are mandatory again in closed and open spaces. The government reminded residents and civilians to abide by social distancing rules to limit the spread of Omicron.

“We have directed the reimposition for the public to wear masks and apply social distancing measures in all places [closed and open], activities and events,” the government said in a tweet Wednesday.

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The new rules, applied also at the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah, come two months after Saudi Arabia eased restrictions in October, saying face masks would no longer be mandatory in open spaces for people who are fully vaccinated.

People were also allowed at that time to congregate normally and at full capacity in dining areas, cinemas and other public areas.

The kingdom of approximately 34 million people has so far recorded more than 554,000 coronavirus cases, including 8,874 deaths, the highest number of fatalities among the Gulf Arab countries.

On Wednesday, Saudi recorded 744 cases, the highest number since mid-August.

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