Resumption of Umrah likely from Aug 10 for pilgrims worldwide: Saudi govt
Saudi Arabia today announced worldwide resumption of Umrah for pilgrims from 1st Muharram 1443, likely to fall on August 10 following a successful Hajj season.
Umrah for Saudi citizens and residents in the Kingdom began from July 25 which was suspended in the first week of Dhul Hijjah to prepare for Hajj.
Beginning from July 25, agencies have been authorised to issue Visas for Umrah for entry beginning from 1st Muharram 1443 (August 10, 2021), different news agencies reported.
Saudi Arabia announced that it has reopened Islamic holy sites for performing Umrah from Sunday after the end of the Hajj season, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
"The Grand Mosque is ready to receive pilgrims and worshippers for Umrah" said the deputy head of the affairs of the Grand Mosque, Saad bin Muhammad al-Muhaimid.
Pilgrims should note that specific prayer locations have been designated as per Covid-19 standards.
Pilgrims are also required to follow markings on the floor when performing Tawaf as was seen during Hajj and throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Eligibility and requirements
All countries allowed to send direct flights except for nine countries which are India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and Lebanon which require quarantine of 14 days in a third country before arriving in the Kingdom.
There is a mandatory requirement of vaccination against Covid-19 with complete doses of either Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or J&J. This means complete doses of China's vaccines with booster shot of either Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or J&J.
Those who are aged 18 and above will be allowed.
Every pilgrim is required to arrive via an accredited Umrah agency by Saudi Arabia's ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
Umrah is a voluntary pilgrimage that Muslims can perform at any time of the year. In February of 2020, it was suspended due to concerns about the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.
However, later, in October 2020, the Saudi authorities reopened the Islamic holy sites for Umrah after a six-month hiatus. It was limited to Saudis and foreigners residing in the kingdom who were allowed to perform rituals in the Grand Mosque with a capacity of 30 percent, ie only 6,000 people per day.
This year's Hajj received only 60,000 people from within Saudi Arabia's borders due to the ongoing risks from the Covid-19 pandemic.
A total of 58,518 pilgrims performed the Hajj this year. Of them 32,816 were male and the remaining 25,702 were females.
This was the second time in a row that the Saudi government had to reduce the number of pilgrims due to Covid-19. In 2020, only 10,000 pilgrims were able to perform Hajj due to the pandemic.
Authorities announced a "successful" end to the annual event, citing no cases of Covid-19 being recorded.