Saudi Arabia issues new guidelines for Umrah pilgrims as Covid-19 cases surge

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Riyadh - The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Monday announced new terms and conditions for visitors and Umrah pilgrims in the wake of surging coronavirus cases.

As per the new guidelines that will come into effect from the 1st of Ramadan, only those who have received coronavirus vaccines will be allowed to enter the holy mosques, Geo News reported citing the country's media.

The new guidelines state that only those pilgrims who have been duly inoculated with the coronavirus vaccine will be allowed to visit the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (The Prophet's Mosque) and Masjid al-Haram (The Great Mosque), said the Kingdom's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

The ministry clarified that any person who wishes to visit the two holy mosques for the purpose of Umrah or offering prayers must have received both the shots of the vaccine, otherwise, they will not be allowed to enter the mosques, reported Geo News.

The ministry added that even after being inoculated, all those praying in the mosques will still have to follow the Kingdom's coronavirus protocols.

Visitors and pilgrims will be able to choose the date and time of their visit to the mosques contingent upon strict adherence to the coronavirus protocols, the ministry said.

It’s also not clear whether the policy, which comes amid a rise in coronavirus infections in the kingdom, would be extended to the annual hajj later this year, The Guardian reported.

Last month, King Salman replaced the hajj minister, months after the kingdom hosted the smallest hajj in modern history due to the pandemic.