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Saudi Arabia announces new Umrah measures

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced fresh measures for the Umrah pilgrimage, which was suspended for six months due to the coronavirus outbreak.

As part of the COVID-19 measures, the barricades placed around the Kaaba and the holy Black Stone will remain in its place and visitors will be prevented from touching them, the official SPA news agency reported.

Masjid al-Haram, where the Kaaba is located, will be disinfected 10 times a day, the SPA said, adding that quarantine rooms were already being prepared for visitors showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Saudi Arabia announced last week that it will gradually lift a coronavirus-related travel ban for the Umrah pilgrimage starting early next month.

As of October 4, Saudis and expatriates in the kingdom will be allowed to perform Umrah at the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah at a 30% capacity or 6,000 people per day.

Meanwhile, as of October 18, the kingdom will allow 15,000 pilgrims per day to perform Umrah and prayers at Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Madinah.

The SPA said both local and international worshippers coming for Umrah and worship would be accepted as of November 1, while Masjid al-Haram and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi will be opened for worship at full capacity by taking COVID-19 protective measures.

Due to the pandemic, the Hajj pilgrimage this year was limited to those living in Saudi Arabia.