- The Grand Mosque in Mecca operated at full capacity on Sunday.
- Officials said that visitors should be fully vaccinated and wear masks.
- In addition, the Kaaba was surrounded and thrown out of reach.
The Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia’s Muslim holy city of Mecca operated at full capacity on Sunday, where worshipers were praying shoulder to shoulder for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Activists removed floor markings that guide people to social distancing in and around the Grand Mosque built around the Kaaba, the black cube structure for which Muslims around the world pray.
“This is in line with the decision to ease precautionary measures and allow pilgrims and visitors to visit the Grand Mosque at full capacity,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
Images and footage from Sunday morning showed people praying shoulder to shoulder, forming straight lines of worshipers who are revered in offering Muslim prayers, for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic last year. had taken hold.
While social distancing measures were lifted, officials said that visitors should be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and continue to wear masks in the mosque grounds.
In addition, the Kaaba was surrounded and thrown out of reach.
Saudi Arabia announced in August that it would start accepting vaccinated foreigners who wish to make Umrahi Pilgrimage.
NS Umrahi Can be done at any time and usually attracts millions of people from all over the world, as does the annual Hajj, which able-bodied Muslims must perform at least once in their lifetime.
In July, only about 60,000 inoculated residents were allowed to participate as a sizable down of the annual Hajj.
The Covid-19 pandemic has severely disrupted both Muslim pilgrims, who are usually major revenue earners for the state, earning a combined $12 billion annually.
Hosting the pilgrimages is a matter of prestige for Saudi rulers, for whom the guardianship of Islam’s holiest sites is their most powerful source of political legitimacy.
The once inclusive state began issuing tourist visas, allowing foreign visitors to do more than just pilgrimage for the first time in 2019 as part of an ambitious push to improve its global image and diversify income.
Between September 2019 and March 2020, it issued 400,000 of them – only for the pandemic to crush that momentum as borders were closed.
But the state is slowly opening up, and has started welcoming vaccinated foreign tourists from August 1.
Saudi Arabia also announced that from Sunday fully vaccinated sports fans would be allowed to attend events in all stadiums and other sports facilities, the SPA reported.
It has also said that masks are no longer mandatory in most open spaces.
Saudi Arabia has recorded more than 547,000 coronavirus cases and 8,760 deaths.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)