The Saudi authorities announced on Tuesday evening, September 22, a gradual resumption of Omra in four stages, reports several local media including the satellite television channel Al Arabiya. Umrah was suspended last March as part of the fight against the spread of Covid-19.
The first stage will begin on October 4. It will only concern Saudi citizens and foreigners residing in Saudi Arabia. Due to the health measures applied as part of the fight against the coronavirus, the number of pilgrims will be limited to 6,000 per day, or 30% of the reception capacity of the Al-Harâm Mosque (The Great Mosque of Mecca) after the implementation of physical distancing measures.
The second stage will begin on October 18. Saudi citizens and foreigners resident in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to perform Umrah, Ziara and prayers at the Grand Mosque. The occupancy rate of the Grand Mosque will be increased to 75% of capacity after the implementation of health measures (15,000 pilgrims and 40,000 faithful per day).
The third stage will begin on November 1, with pilgrims and devotees from inside and outside the Kingdom. The occupancy rate of the Grand Mosque will be increased to 100% capacity after the implementation of physical distancing measures.
The pilgrims will come from countries that will be selected according to the health risk they represent, Saudi authorities said. No list of countries has been published.
This third stage will last until the official announcement of the end of the Covid-19 epidemic in the Kingdom. The fourth and final stage will then begin with a return to normal, ie 100% of the natural carrying capacity of the Great Mosque of Mecca.