Saudi Arabia has eased its COVID-19-related restrictions after several months since imposed. Therefore, several people had the chance to visit Mecca on Sunday.
Return to the Holy Site
On Sunday, Mecca has welcomed pilgrims once again as the kingdom officials lifted several restrictions on curbing the coronavirus. Although only a limited number of people attended, with only 6,000 pilgrims allowed daily, it still marks a first after several months of lockdown. Moreover, each person can stay for a maximum of three hours to finish the pilgrimage.
Saudi Arabia began lifting coronavirus restrictions at Islam’s holiest site in Mecca on Sunday, as a scattering of worshipers performed the umrah pilgrimage for the first time since March.https://t.co/fI2XRr94aC
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 5, 2020
Usually, millions of people from all over the world visit Mecca, a holy site for the Islamic religion. However, with the spread of the COVID-19, countries have imposed restrictions and lockdowns and closed their borders in order to slow transmission of the disease.
But now, Saudi Arabia has allowed the gates of the Grand Mosque in Mecca to open. However, for the first phase, only the kingdom’s citizens and those residing there can enter the holy site.
Pilgrimage in a Pandemic
Before the pandemic, people would flock and would fill the entire area. Now, as Bloomberg reported, local media had shown that some 50 people attended, physically distanced from each other, at a time.
For the first phase, Saudi Arabia only allows local residents and at 30 percent capacity. But on October 18, the maximum visitors allowed will increase to 15,000 pilgrims. According to the Interior Ministry, Muslims from outside the country can perform the umrah pilgrimage as early as November 1, Bloomberg reports. Just recently, the kingdom has eased some restrictions on its borders.
Moreover, reports also said that the Grand Mosque is sanitized and cleaned several times every day. Furthermore, those who wish to enter the mosque will have to arrange a reservation online. The officials created an online application to prevent overcrowding, Aljazeera said.
NBC News reported that religious pilgrimage amounts to $12 billion generated revenue. As such, it provides employment to local hotels, restaurants, and stores, with millions of travelers coming in yearly.
According to recent reports, Saudi Arabia had at least 336,000 confirmed cases. It also recorded 4,850 deaths.