Anyone found attempting to perform Umrah pilgrimage during the holy month of Ramazan without holding an official permit could be slapped a fine of 10,000 Saudi riyals – an amount equal to US$2,666 or over Rs0.4 million, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted official sources as saying on Friday.
On Monday, the authorities in Saudi Arabia had announced that only vaccinated or immune worshippers will be given permits to perform Umrah and regular prayers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina during Ramazan.
The kingdom's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah had said that the permits will be granted to worshippers who have already got the two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, or those who took the first dose 14 days before applying to obtain the permit and those who recovered from the infection already.
“It has been decided that whoever found attempting to perform Umrah during the holy month of Ramazan without holding an official permit will be subject to a SR10,000 fine,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted a Ministry of Interior source as saying.
It said that anyone caught attempting to enter into the holy site of Makkah (Al-Haram Al-Makki) to pray without holding a permit will be subject to a SR1,000 fine (Approx. Rs0.4 million). "This penalty will be implemented until the pandemic is over and public life returns to normal.”
“The source called on citizens and residents to abide by all the instructions requiring those wishing to perform Umrah or pray in the holy site of Makkah (Al-Haram Al-Makki) to obtain a permit, stressing that security personnel will carry out their duties in all roads, security control check points, sites and corridors leading to the central area surrounding the holy site of Makkah (Al-Haram Al-Makki) to prevent any attempt to violate the regulations in force,” the SPA report added.
Last Sunday, the kingdom had decided to retain ban on Iftar gathering and Itikaf at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) mosque in Madina during the month of Ramazan.
Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, head of the Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, announced that the presidency would provide individual ready-made Iftar meals for those visiting the Grand Mosque while distribution of Sehri (predawn meal) in the premises of Masjid-e-Nabvi will be forbidden, Saudi Gazette reported.
The kingdom had announced that Umrah permits would not be issued for domestic pilgrims above the age of 70 irrespective of their coronavirus vaccination status.
The oil-rich kingdom saw a surge in the number of Covid-19 infections in recent days.