Cairo: Obtaining an official permit is obligatory to undertake Umrah or lesser pilgrimage at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the Saudi Interior Ministry has said.
Umrah will not be allowed without a permit issued via apps Eatmarna and Tawkkalna, the ministry added, according to Okaz newspaper.
A fine of SR10,000 will be imposed on arrivals without such permits, it said.
“The permit will be verified on the Tawakkalna app by checking it with the national ID, residency ID [Iqama], the passport number or the border number according to the date specified in the permit,” the ministry’s General Directorate of Public Security, said.
Ramadan is usually the peak of Umrah.
On Friday, chief of Umrah Security Forces Maj. Gen. Mohammed Al Bassami said undertaking lesser pilgrimage requires a permit “to guarantee good organisation”. However, praying inside the Grand Mosque and its courtyards does not require a permit.
Wearing face masks is meanwhile obligatory for pilgrims and worshippers praying at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet Mohammed’s Mosque in Medina during Ramadan, Assistant chief of Umrah Security Forces Maj. Gen. Ali Al Qahtani said.
Saudi authorities have recently eased measures for performing Umrah as the kingdom has largely relaxed restrictions against COVID-19.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has lifted several precautionary measures including cancellations of permits for praying at the Grand Mosque and visiting the Prophet’s Mohammed Mosque.
The Ministry has also said the immunisation check to enter both holy sites has been scrapped for all worshippers.
The ministry has, moreover, cancelled the once-obligatory registration of immunisation data for overseas Muslims to get an Umrah permit.
A mandatory presentation of a negative PCR test result to get access to both sacred places has been lifted too.