Umrah pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia has been resumed after seven months of closure due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
According to the details, started today, the number of Umrah pilgrims has been capped at 6000, as compared to 2019 when more than 19 million people performed the Umrah, an Islamic pilgrimage that can be undertaken at any time of the year.
Worshippers, perform the Umrah pilgrimage are required to download an application – named I’tamarna – giving them access to the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah and allowing them to select modes of transport and meeting points.
According to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) devised to curb the spread of the dread virus, the pilgrims have to seek permission letter prior to performing Umrah from the authorities.
Some 70% of the pilgrims were foreigners who resided in the kingdom, while the rest were Saudi citizens.
In addition to this, the High-resolution thermal cameras have been installed at the entrances of the Grand Mosque, which will be washed 10 times a day.
Phase Wise Resumption
Let it be known that Umrah will resume in three phases to ensure the safety of pilgrims.
In the first two weeks, 6,000 Saudis will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage each day.
From October 18, up to 15,000 residents and citizens of the Kingdom will be allowed to undertake Umrah daily. And in November the number is expected to rise to 20,000, reaching 100 percent capacity.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Government of Saudi Arabia has made a 14-day gap compulsory before booking another date for Umrah.
Dr. Amr Al-Maddah, the Chief planning, and strategy officer of the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, said in his recent statement that Pilgrims can perform Umrah twice, but must wait 14 days before performing Umrah the second time, to give a chance to everyone to perform Umrah in line with the necessary precautionary measures brought about by the coronavirus.”
He said the ministry is studying the available spots that can be used by the pilgrims to perform Umrah while maintaining social distancing, ensuring health protocols.
The Minister added that between the sunset and evening prayers, pilgrims will not be allowed to perform Umrah and, instead, this period will be allocated to cleaning and disinfecting.
“Pilgrims will start performing Umrah at midnight, with the place disinfected before the arrival of each group.”