As a part of their efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus, Saudi Arabia will now be allowing only those worshippers and pilgrims into their territory who have either been inoculated with a covid-19 vaccine or have recovered from the disease.
The announcement was made today by the Gulf country’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah that looks after the activities revolving around the pilgrimage. The country witnesses millions of pilgrims every year to complete their Umrah or Hajj.
Hence, people who want to visit the country or those already living there and wishing to enter the Grand Mosque or complete their Umrah have to first obtain their permits, proving that they have been administered with any of the covid-19 vaccines available. No specific vaccine has been mentioned.
Apart from them, those who had caught the virus but recovered successfully from the infection are also eligible to perform their pilgrimage duties with special permits.
Now, these permits to visit the Mecca as part of the Islamic pilgrimage and the Grand Mosque will be given to people who have been vaccinated with 2 doses of the covid vaccine. Out of these 2 jabs, they should have received the first one at least 14 days before visiting Mecca and Madina. The Arab News reported the Ministry announcing the update on Monday.
In order to get their hands on the permits, a pilgrim or visitor is required to register on an app called ‘Tawakkalna’. This application is Saudi Arabia’s own covid-19 tracking app that was launched in 2020 during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic. It was designed to track the grave situation of the disease across the country.
The visitor’s vaccination or recovery status will then have to be fed into the app to avail the permit.
People looking to perform Umrah or visit the 2 mosques will also have to register themselves on the Umrah app called ‘Eatmarna’ apart from ‘Tawakkalna’, as per the orders of the Ministry.
Genuine permits could only be obtained from these two platforms, the authorities added.
As part of the Kingdom’s Ramadan operational plan, the government has vaccinated close to 10,000 workers of the Grand Mosque to safeguard the people visiting the region and the workers themselves.
Given the covid situation, 5 areas in the Grand Mosque will be provided to worshippers to offer their prayers.
Since the ban on Umrah and prayers was lifted after a 7 months suspension in October 2020, over 13 million pilgrims have already visited the mosques wearing masks and following social distancing rules. Videos of the ways being followed now were also shared on social media platforms where worshippers can be seen performing their Umrah duties with a distance from the others.