Cairo: Saudi Arabia has highlighted rules for performing umrah or lesser pilgrimage, saying it is not possible to modify appointments set in mandatory permits issued to undertake the ritual.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said the appointment can be cancelled via the app “Eatmarna” six hours at most before the permit time takes effect to apply for a new permit.
The reminder was made amid a spike in the numbers of umrah pilgrims during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, usually a peak season for performing the rites at the Grand Mosque in Mecca.
The ministry, meanwhile, noted that unvaccinated Muslims are allowed to obtain umrah permits and pray at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet Mohammed’s Mosque in Medina provided they were not infected by COVID-19 or had come in touch with the virus patients.
Another rule, laid down by the ministry, is that children escorted by a parent, can have access to the Grand Mosque to pray only, pointing out that the age limit for a child to obtain an umrah permit is five years provided the child did not catch COVID-19 or come in touch with its patients.
For children’s safety, the ministry has advised parents to choose times when there is no overcrowding of worshippers.
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.