Thai Umrah pilgrims arrive at the King Abdulaziz airport in Jeddah.
Umrah pilgrims arrive at the King Abdulaziz airport in Jeddah. Image Credit: Okaz

Cairo: Saudi Arabia is set to ease restrictions to allow overseas Muslims to come to the country to perform Umrah or lesser pilgrimage, local media reported.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah plans to allow overseas pilgrims to undertake Umrah without the need to register with companies in their home countries, reported news portal Al Marsd.

“According to the plan, the pilgrim has to contract a local company to provide housing, permits and transportation,” unidentified sources were quoted as saying.

There was no immediate comment from Saudi authorities, which have unveiled arrangements for the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan, traditionally the peak season of Umrah at the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

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 in Medina.

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.

Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated Muslims can now undertake Umrah under certain conditions.

Such Muslims are also allowed to pray at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, provided they are not infected with COVID-19 or have not come in touch with other persons who tested positive for the disease.

Saudi Arabia earlier this month lifted most anti-coronavirus restrictions as virus infection rates have significantly declined in the kingdom.

This included scrapping physical distancing among worshippers at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque. Still, worshippers are required to wear face masks.

Saudi authorities also cancelled mandatory PCR tests as well as institutional and home quarantine for arrivals in the kingdom.