The competent agencies The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, Ministry of Health, and The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah have devised a series of plans to keep the well-being of pilgrims and visitors to the Two Holy Mosques in mind while maintaining the required protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
1. Mandatory Vaccination against COVID-19
The most important decision was to make ‘Immunisation’ a mandatory requirement, The authorities have devised three levels of Immunisation,
a. Immune from First Dose: Those who have received one dose of vaccine and 14 days have passed.
b. Immune from Infection: Those who have recovered from COVID-19 within in the last 6 months
c. Immune: Those who have completed the course of Vaccination.
2. Limited Capacity
The Capacity of Masjid Al Haram has been increased to 50,000 pilgrims a day and the maximum number of worshipers to 100,000. Usually, the Grand Mosque can accommodate up to 2.5 million people at a time.
The Agency of Prophet’s Mosque affairs also placed some capacity restrictions reducing the maximum capacity to about 40% and banning the entry of children. It also opened the new western piazza where worshippers could pray Taraweeh prayers.
The agency also launched a real-time indicator that can be used to determine the capacity of the Mosque.
3. Individual Precautionary Measures
The General Presidency has asked worshipers to adhere to precautionary measures such as wearing masks at all times, bringing prayer mats, and adhere to social distancing.
4. Reducing Time gaps
To reduce exposure risks, the Presidency has taken steps to reduce long exposures to possible threats by reducing the time gap between Adhan and Iqamah to 10 minutes, reducing 20 Rakats Taraweeh to 10 Rakats, and the closure of the Two Holy Mosques 30 minutes after Isha and reopening 1 hour before Fajr Adhan.
5. Limiting Mataaf Access
Access to Mataaf has also been limited to Umrah pilgrims only, to ensure smooth Tawaaf rituals avoiding crowds
6. Booking of Permits through Eatmarna and Tawakalana
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has opened booking for permits for Umrah, Prayers in Masjid Al Haram, Prayers in Rawdah Al Sharifah, and Ziyarah to the Rawdah of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) and His Rightly Guided Caliphs.
The permits can be booked from either Eatmarna (Umrah) App or the Health App (Tawakalana)
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has also announced that it would be possible to obtain permits through hotels around the Haram.
7. Assurance of Health
The General Presidency has ensured visitors of best services and assurance of health through vaccinating all employees of the Presidency with the COVID-19 Vaccine