After a lapse of more than seven months the Saudi government on Sunday allowed the people to perform daily prayers at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the holiest shrine of Islam. This decision followed the marked improvement in the situation vis-a-vis the Corona Virus.
On Sunday the government also allowed the increase in the number of pilgrims performing the Umrah, an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina undertaken throughout the year. The first phase of relaxation was made on October 4 when 6,000 pilgrims residing in the kingdom were allowed to perform the Umrah.
It needs to be recalled that the Saudi government had suspended Umrah on March 4 following two cases of the disease in the kingdom. The Saudi government also put a ban on international flights in view of the surge in the number of Corona Virus cases around the world. The curbs were maintained throughout the year till early October when the situation improved.
No pilgrims from across the world were allowed to perform Hajj this year. Saudi Arabia had to take strict measures not only because of millions of pilgrims who converge to Mecca and Medina every year but also because the country hosts a huge number of expatriates from across the world, especially from South Asia.
According to reports, the kingdom will, from November 1, allow visitors from specific countries deemed safe to perform Umrah at 100 % of the revised capacity of 20,000. The restrictions will remain in place till the danger posed by the pandemic passes away totally.
The total number of deaths in the kingdom till date is 5,185 while the total number of people afflicted by the disease so far is 3,42,202. It remains to be seen when and how the situation improves so much that all the curbs are relaxed and the kingdom resumes life as usual.