The Grand Mosque in Mecca returned to work at its full capacity, on Sunday, after easing restrictions imposed due to the Corona epidemic.
Signs on the mosque’s grounds that were there to help worshipers maintain social distancing have been removed. People were allowed to pray side by side, as they used to before.
Video footage published by official media showed the process of removing the distancing stickers inside the corridors, courtyards and facilities of the mosque, before worshipers lined up next to each other to perform the dawn prayer.
However, all visitors to the mosque are required to be vaccinated with at least two doses against the virus, and they are also required to wear face masks while inside the corridors of the campus.
Visitors will also still need to make a reservation to perform Umrah or pray in the Great Mosque of Mecca through two applications affiliated with the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.
And the Saudi Ministry of Interior had said Friday that the kingdom will ease Covid-19 restrictions from October 17, after the decrease in the number of daily infections and the vaccination of the majority of people with vaccines.
The ministry added that the government will raise social distancing measures and will allow the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina to operate at their full capacity, receiving those vaccinated with two doses of the vaccine.
The authorities also abolished the restrictions imposed on people who had been fully vaccinated in closed places, places of gatherings, transportation, restaurants and cinemas.
She added that face masks are no longer mandatory in open public spaces.
Saudi Arabia had closed the Grand Mosque in Mecca in March 2020, then reopened it to pilgrims under strict measures last July, before, after three months, allowing all Muslims to pray in it with a limited capacity and distance during prayers.
The Hajj season, which usually attracts millions, was drastically reduced, as Saudi Arabia organized two exceptional Hajj seasons, in which the numbers were limited to a few thousand in 2020 before rising to tens of thousands this year.
With the disruption of religious rituals associated with Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia lost a major source of revenue for months, as the kingdom was earning about $ 12 billion annually from Hajj and Umrah.
The epidemic also hampered the Kingdom’s plans to transform into a tourist country, as part of a strategy to diversify the economy’s activities to stop reliance on oil.
The kingdom slowly reopened its doors at the beginning of 2021, and began welcoming vaccinated foreign tourists on August 1.