Saudi Arabia resumes Umrah pilgrimage amid strict SOPs

Thermal cameras placed at entrances, inside halls of Grand Mosque to monitor body temperature spikes, issue alerts

Our Correspondent October 04, 2020
The kingdom suspended the Umrah pilgrimage in March and later scaled back the annual hajj in a blow to millions of pilgrims around the world. AFP


Makkah's Grand Mosque opened its doors on Sunday to the first group of pilgrims performing Umrah in first phase, amid strict precautionary and preventive measures.

The mosque was opened for public after about a seven-month break.

The group of Umrah pilgrims entered the mosque after applying through the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah's Eatmarna App.

To accommodate a quota of 6,000 pilgrims per day, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has prepared five meeting points where pilgrims will meet and join health professionals on buses to the Grand Mosque.

To welcome the pilgrims, thermal cameras were placed at the entrances and inside the halls of the mosque to monitor body temperature spikes and issue alerts if necessary.

About 1,000 employees have also been trained to monitor the Umran rituals at the mosque.

On October 2, Saudi Arabia had announced reopening the Muslim holy places for the year-round Umrah pilgrimage on Sunday, scaled back and with extensive health precautions, seven months after coronavirus prompted its suspension.

The Umrah, the pilgrimage that can be undertaken at any time, usually attracts millions of Muslims from across the globe each year.

It will be revived in three stages, with the initial phase seeing just 6,000 citizens and residents already within the kingdom allowed to take part each day.

Saudi Arabia had issued fresh guidelines for passengers from Pakistan and other countries during the coronavirus pandemic after announcing plans for gradually lifting travel restrictions.

The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) stated in its circular sent to airlines that passengers (non-Saudis) will submit their negative PCR test reports from a verified laboratory abroad. The test report must be done no later than 72 hours before the scheduled departure to any of the airports in the kingdom.

It also said that the condition for PCR test is limited to non-Saudis only who are over the age of eight years. The guidelines also include that ‘different regulations of the departure country must be considered and observed in determining the appropriate age to conduct Covid-19 (PCR) test for children.’

The aviation authority had earlier directed all foreign airlines including Pakistan to strictly implement the prevention measures during flights to Saudi Arabia.


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