The first group of pilgrims, allowed in the mosque compound by appointment, practice social distancing, as they perform Umrah in the Grand Mosque, after Saudi authorities ease coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, October 3, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: Umrah or lesser pilgrimage resumes today for Muslims inside Saudi Arabia, days after the end of the annual Hajj rites attended by overseas pilgrims for the first time in two years.

The General Presidency for Affairs of the Two Mosques has said it has finalised preparations for Umrah rituals booked via the smartphone app “Eatmarna”, Saudi news portal Ajel reported.

Umrah trips for overseas Muslims are due to resume on the first day of Al Muhram, the first month in the lunar Islamic calendar expected to begin on July 30 according to astronomical calculations.

“Umrah pilgrims are provided with all services,” said Badr Al Fareih, the undersecretary of the General Presidency chief.

He anticipated an increase in the numbers of Umrah pilgrims compared to previous seasons as COVID-19 restrictions have been largely eased.

Nearly 900,000 pilgrims mostly from outside Saudi Arabia performed this year’s Hajj that ended last week, after the kingdom relaxed curbs against the COVID-19 pandemic that had prompted authorities to limit the rites to domestic pilgrims for two years.