Saudi Arabia: Social distancing abolished at Makkah’s Grand Mosque

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,  says it is abolishing the requirement of Social Distancing in Masjid Al Haram in Makkah and Masjid Al Nabawi in Madinah, from yesterday, Sunday.

This comes after the Ministry of Interior ordered the complete opening of the Haramain Sharifain and relaxed the majority of the Health Precautions, which it said was in response to a sharp drop in daily infections and a considerable advancement of vaccination numbers.

The Grand Mosque in the holy city of Makkah returned to operating at full capacity, with worshippers praying shoulder-to-shoulder for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Yesterday, floor markings that guide people to social distance in and around the Grand Mosque were removed.

“This is in line with the decision to ease precautionary measures and to allow pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Mosque at full capacity”, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Pictures and footage yesterday morning showed people praying side by side in straight rows of worshippers, the formation revered in Muslim prayers, for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold last year.

While social distancing measures were lifted, authorities said visitors must be fully vaccinated against coronavirus and must continue to wear masks on mosque grounds. 

The Kaaba, towards which Muslims around the world pray, however remained cordoned off and out of reach. 

The authorities also lifted curbs on fully vaccinated people at closed venues, gatherings, transportation, restaurants and cinemas. Masks are no longer mandatory in open public places while still imposed at closed venues, it added.

Recall that in July, only about 60,000 inoculated citizens and residents were allowed to take part in a vastly scaled-down form of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

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