The Ramadan period brings a large number of worshippers from all over the world to Mecca to perform the year-round umrah.
In March 2020, the Saudi Arabia authorities shut their doors to pilgrims as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic but only resumed at intervals at the beginning of October under strict precautionary measures.
Initially, only 6,000 Saudis and foreign residents in Saudi Arabia were allowed each day for the Umra, which can be undertaken throughout the year unlike the hajj, which takes place once a year.
The number then rose to 15,000 per day for the Umra while 40,000 worshippers were admitted to the Grand Mosque for daily prayers.
Worshippers from abroad were allowed from 1 November, but the Ministry of Health picked countries on the basis of the evolution of the pandemic.
Now the Saudi Arabia authorities have announced that only people immunized against Covid-19 will be allowed to perform the umrah pilgrimage from the start of Ramadan, the holy fasting month for Muslims.
On Monday, the Hajj ministry said in a statement that “only those who are immunized” against coronavirus will be allowed to perform Umra prayers at the Grand Mosque in Mecca from the start of Ramadan.
This includes those who have received the required two doses of vaccine and those who have received a single dose for at least 14 days.
Saudi Arabia has recorded more than 390,000 cases of Covid-19, including more than 6,700 deaths, while more than 5 million people have received at least one dose of vaccine out of a population of 34 million.