Saudi authorities stated Monday solely folks immunised towards Covid-19 can be allowed to carry out the year-round umrah pilgrimage from the beginning of Ramadan, the holy fasting month for Muslims.
The hajj and umrah ministry stated in an announcement that three classes of individuals could be thought of “immunised” — those that have acquired two doses of the vaccine, these administered a single dose no less than 14 days prior, and individuals who have recovered from the an infection.
Solely these folks can be eligible for permits to carry out umrah, in addition to to attend prayers within the Grand Mosque within the holy metropolis of Mecca.
The coverage would successfully “increase the operational capability” of the Grand Mosque throughout Ramadan, it stated, including that the situation additionally applies for entry into the Prophet’s Mosque within the holy metropolis of Medina.
The ministry stated the coverage begins with Ramadan, which is because of start later this month, however it was unclear how lengthy it could final.
It was additionally not clear whether or not the coverage, which comes amid an uptick in coronavirus infections within the kingdom, could be prolonged to the annual hajj pilgrimage later this yr.
Saudi Arabia has reported greater than 393,000 coronavirus infections and 6,700 deaths from Covid-19.
The dominion’s well being ministry stated it has administered greater than 5 million coronavirus vaccine doses, in a rustic with a inhabitants of over 34 million.
The announcement comes after King Salman changed the hajj minister final month, lower than a yr after the dominion hosted the smallest hajj in fashionable historical past because of the pandemic.
Mohammad Benten was relieved from his publish and changed by Essam bin Saeed, in keeping with a royal decree revealed by official Saudi Press Company (SPA).
In late July final yr, the dominion hosted a downsized hajj pilgrimage, one of many 5 pillars of Islam and a should for able-bodied Muslims no less than as soon as of their lifetime.
Solely as much as 10,000 Muslim residents of Saudi Arabia itself have been allowed to participate, a far cry from the two.5 million Muslims from around the globe who participated in 2019.
It’s unclear what number of pilgrims can be allowed for hajj this yr.
In response to the pro-government Okaz newspaper, solely vaccinated pilgrims will probably be permitted this yr.
In a leisure of coronavirus curbs final October, Saudi Arabia opened the Grand Mosque for prayers for the primary time in seven months and partially resumed the umrah pilgrimage.
The umrah, the pilgrimage that may be undertaken at any time, often attracts hundreds of thousands of Muslims from throughout the globe annually.
Authorities stated the umrah can be allowed to return to full capability as soon as the specter of the pandemic has abated.
Saudi Arabia’s custodianship of Mecca and Medina — Islam’s two holiest websites — is seen as its strongest supply of the monarchy’s political legitimacy.
The holy websites are additionally a key income earner for the dominion, whose economic system has been badly hit by the pandemic.
(Apart from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is revealed from a syndicated feed.)