RIYADH, KOMPAS.com – The Saudi Arabian authorities said on Monday (5/4/2021) that only people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 will be allowed to perform Umrah throughout the year from the beginning of Ramadan.
In a statement, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Haj and Umrah explained that three categories of people would be considered vaccinated.
First, those who have received two doses of the vaccine. Second, those given a single dose at least 14 days beforehand. Lastly are people who have recovered from Covid-19 infection.
Only those people are entitled to get an Umrah permit, as well as attend prayers at Masjidil Haram in the holy city of Mecca.
The policy will effectively increase the operational capacity of the Grand Mosque during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims.
This condition also applies to entering the Prophet’s Mosque at the holy city of Medina.
The Saudi Ministry emphasized that this policy applies as a conditions of umrah 2021 on Ramadan, the end of this month. However, it is unclear how long that will last.
It is also unclear whether the policies that come amid rising coronavirus infections in the kingdom will be extended to the annual hajj later this year.
Saudi Arabia has reported more than 393,000 coronavirus infections and 6,700 deaths from Covid-19.
Downsizing the number of Hajj
The announcement came after King Salman replaced the Haj Minister last month. Exactly less than a year after the government hosted the pilgrimage with the smallest number of pilgrims in modern history, due to a pandemic.
Mohammad Benten was relieved of his post and replaced by Essam bin Saeed, according to a royal decree published by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). AFP.
At the end of July last year, the kingdom performed the pilgrimage at a reduced rate.
Only at least 10,000 Saudi Arabian Muslims alone are allowed to take part. The number is far from the 2.5 million Muslims from around the world who participated in 2019.
It is unclear how many pilgrims are allowed for the hajj this year.
According to the newspapers Specimen being pro-government, only vaccinated pilgrims will be allowed this year.
In relaxation of coronavirus restrictions last October, Saudi Arabia opened the Grand Mosque for the first time in seven months, and partly continued the Umrah.
Authorities say Umrah will be allowed to return to full capacity once the pandemic threat subsides.
Mecca and Medina, two of Islam’s holiest sites, are seen as the kingdom’s most powerful sources of political legitimacy.
These holy sites are also a major source of income for the kingdom, whose economy has also been badly hit by the pandemic.