Umrah saudi Grand mosque
Pilgrims maintain social distance in the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, July 17, 2021. Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: Trips of Umrah or the lesser pilgrimage will resume later this month after the current Hajj season ends, a Saudi official has said.

Last October, Saudi Arabia resumed Umrah after a suspension of around seven months due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Umrah will restart on the 15th of the current Islamic month of Dhu Al Hijjah corresponding to July 23, said Saudi Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Abdulfattah Al Mashat.

“In the beginning, the number of the Umrah pilgrims will be 20,000 [per day]. The number will increase gradually,” he told Saudi-owned television Al Arabiya.

The official explained that the issue is handled on the basis of the epidemiological situation in the holy city of Mecca and outside Saudi Arabia.

In October, Saudi Arabia set into motion a plan for gradual resumption of the Umrah amid stringent precautions against COVID-19.

The first phase of the plan, which began on October 4, allowed 6,000 Umrah pilgrims from inside the kingdom per day into the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

The second went into effect on October 18, allowing about 40,000 worshippers and 10,000 pilgrims a day into the site.

As many as 20,000 Umrah pilgrims and 60,000 worshipers per day were allowed into the mosque according to the third phase that started in November.

Ramadan is usually a peak Umrah season.

Last Ramadan, authorities increased the capacity of the Grand Mosque to reach 50,000 Umrah pilgrims and 100,000 worshippers per day. Only “immunised” people against COVID-19 were allowed to perform the Umrah and visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.