Abu Dhabi: Saudi authorities will restrict Umrah to 20,000 domestic and international pilgrims in the first batch, as the Kingdom gears up for resumption of the minor pilgrimage on August 10, local media reported.
Hisham Saeed, spokesperson of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, told Okaz only pilgrims from COVID-19 green list countries, and according to what was decided by the Ministry of Health and General Civil Aviation Authority, would be allowed, noting that the number of pilgrims will be gradually increased during the next period.
The kingdom reopened the Grand Mosque in Mecca to domestic Umrah pilgrims on July 25, after the Hajj pilgrimage concluded.
During Hajj, authorities restricted entry to the mosque only to 60,000 Saudi residents and citizens due to the pandemic. Those wishing to perform Hajj were also required to be vaccinated, free from chronic diseases and between the ages of 18-65.
Authorities said no COVID-19 cases were registered among the pilgrims during this year’s Hajj.
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s (PBUH) Mosque said that it has prepared to organise the entry of pilgrims to the Great Mosque through specific doors, in line with COVID-19 precautionary measures and physical distancing.
Domestic pilgrims wishing to perform Umrah will need to book an appointment using the Eatmarna app while international pilgrims will be required to go through an official agency.
Foreign pilgrims have access to more than 6,000 external Umrah agencies and about 30 websites and platforms to make reservations for booking their journey to perform Umrah.
Through the online platforms, pilgrims can purchase their entire programme of travel, transportation, hotels, and catering, and specify a company or institution for Umrah to provide services, while Umrah companies and institutions are currently being prepared to follow all health precautions and crowd management.