Muslim worshippers pray around the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque complex, Islam's holiest shrine, in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on November 1, 2020, as authorities expand the year-round Umrah pilgrimage to accommodate more worshippers while relaxing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic curbs Photograph:( AFP )
Umrah is a pilgrimage that can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to Hajj, which has specific dates according to the Islamic lunar calendar
Saudi Arabia allows worshippers from foreign countries to perform the Umrah pilgrimage in Mecca starting on Sunday (November 1) as the kingdom relaxes measures it had taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
According to Amr Al-Maddah, deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, ''The pilgrims must isolate for three days after arrival before being transported to religious sites.''
Al-Maddah said the testing of pilgrims, who are all 50 years old or younger, for COVID-19 will be continuous and any cases detected will be closely monitored.
The revered Black Stone in the Kaaba, which is customary but not mandatory to touch during the pilgrimage, will be out of reach.
The Grand Mosque is to be sterilised before and after each group of worshippers. Thermal sensors have been installed to measure the body temperature of pilgrims, Mecca authorities said.
Umrah is a pilgrimage that can be undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to Hajj, which has specific dates according to the Islamic lunar calendar.
The Umrah usually attracts millions of Muslims from across the globe each year. Authorities said the Umrah will be allowed to return to full capacity once the threat of the pandemic has abated.
Saudi Arabia closed its borders in February to foreign Umrah pilgrims, and in March stopped its own citizens and residents from taking part. In July, it allowed a limited number of domestic pilgrims to perform the Hajj.