Mecca reopens for restricted ‘umrah’ pilgrimage after seven month pause resulting from coronavirus
The umrah normally attracts hundreds of thousands of Muslims from throughout the globe annually nevertheless it was suspended in March as a result of coronavirus pandemic
Mecca, Saudi Arabia: Masks-clad Muslims circled Islam’s holiest website alongside socially distanced paths on Sunday, as Saudi authorities partially resumed the year-round umrah pilgrimage with intensive well being precautions adopted after a seven-month coronavirus hiatus.
1000’s of worshippers entered the Grand Mosque within the holy metropolis of Mecca in batches to carry out the ritual of circling the sacred Kaaba, a cubic construction in direction of which Muslims all over the world pray.
The umrah, the pilgrimage that may be undertaken at any time, normally attracts hundreds of thousands of Muslims from throughout the globe annually nevertheless it was suspended in March as a result of coronavirus pandemic.
It is going to be revived in three phases, with Saudi Hajj Minister Mohammad Benten saying final week that 6,000 pilgrims per day might be allowed within the first stage to carry out the umrah “meticulously and inside a specified time frame”.
A raft of precautions has been adopted to thrust back any outbreaks, in accordance with state media.
The revered Black Stone within the japanese nook of the Kaaba – which is customary however not necessary to the touch through the pilgrimage – might be out of attain, and the Grand Mosque is to be sterilised earlier than and after every group of worshippers.
Every group of 20 or 25 pilgrims are to be accompanied by a well being employee and medical groups might be on the bottom in case of an emergency, Benten stated.
“In an environment of religion and with assured hearts… the primary batch of pilgrims start the pilgrimage in accordance with the precautionary measures laid out,” the hajj ministry stated on Twitter.
‘Aspirations of Muslims’
Below the second stage from 18 October, the variety of umrah pilgrims might be elevated to fifteen,000 per day.
Guests from overseas might be permitted within the third stage from 1 November, when capability might be raised to twenty,000.
A most of 40,000 folks, together with different worshippers, might be allowed to carry out prayers on the mosque within the second stage and 60,000 within the third, in accordance with the inside ministry.
The choice to renew the pilgrimage was taken in response to the “aspirations of Muslims house and overseas” to carry out the ritual and go to the holy websites, the ministry stated final month.
It stated the umrah might be allowed to return to full capability as soon as the specter of the pandemic has abated.
Till then, the well being ministry will vet nations from which pilgrims are allowed to enter based mostly on the well being dangers.
Saudi Arabia suspended the umrah in March and scaled again the annual hajj pilgrimage over fears the coronavirus might unfold to Islam’s holiest cities and again to pilgrims’ house nations.
The hajj went forward in late July, on the smallest scale in fashionable historical past, with solely as much as 10,000 Muslim residents of the nation allowed to participate – a far cry from the two.5 million who participated final 12 months.
Well being authorities stated no coronavirus circumstances have been reported on the holy websites through the hajj, one of many 5 pillars of Islam and a should for able-bodied Muslims not less than as soon as of their lifetime.
The pilgrimages are an enormous logistical problem, with colossal crowds cramming into comparatively small holy websites, making them weak to contagion.
Saudi Arabia’s custodianship of Mecca and Medina – Islam’s two holiest websites – is seen as its strongest supply of political legitimacy.
The holy websites are additionally a key income earner for the dominion, whose financial system has been badly hit by a coronavirus-driven collapse within the world demand for oil.
Saudi Arabia has had greater than 335,000 confirmed circumstances of the virus and 4,850 deaths.
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