A family of Pakistani travellers arriving to perform Umrah is welcomed at King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah on Sunday. AFP
The third phase of Umrah pilgrimage resumption for Muslims belonging to foreign countries has started as around 10,000 pilgrims were due to arrive in Saudi Arabia on Sunday.
The Kingdom opens its borders for foreign pilgrims for the first time in seven months due to coronavirus.
A medical staff gives oral medication to the first batch of pilgrims at King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah. Reuters
According to Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr Amr Al-Maddah, the 10,000 pilgrims arriving from abroad must first obtain a permit, Arab News reported on Sunday.
Mohammed Saleh Benten (2nd-L), Saudi Arabia's Minister of Hajj welcomes Pakistani pilgrims at King Abdulaziz Airport. AFP
The publication also underscored that upon arrival, pilgrims must isolate for three days before being transported to Miqat sites, the principle boundaries at which pilgrims intending to perform Umrah must change into Ihrams. However, they can stay in the Kingdom for up to 10 days, three of which are in isolation.
As per precautionary measures, 500 groups of international pilgrims are dispersed throughout the day, each with 20 pilgrims. The maximum age limit for international pilgrims is set at 50.
Pilgrims pray as they perform Umrah at the Grand Mosque. Reuters
The Saudi Arabia government has announced fresh measures for the Umrah pilgrimage, which was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The barricade placed around the Kaaba and the holy Black Stone will remain in its place and visitors will be prevented from touching them. Masjid Al Haram will be disinfected 10 times a day, while quarantine rooms have already been established for visitors having symptoms of COVID-19.
Pilgrims perform Umrah at the Grand Mosque. Reuters
Meanwhile, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has called on Umrah performers to protect themselves and their families by adhering to the preventive measures approved by the authorities of Saudi Arabia.
The Hajj, which begins on Wednesday, normally draws around 2.5 million people for five intense days of worship in one of the world's largest gatherings of people from around the world.
Saudi Arabia will end a nationwide curfew and lift restrictions on businesses from Sunday morning after three months of lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, state news agency SPA quoted a source in the interior ministry as saying on Saturday.
The announcement comes amid uncertainty over the Hajj which is due to take place at the end of July, after authorities this week urged Muslims to temporarily defer preparations for the annual pilgrimage.
The state-run Saudi Press Agency cited Saleh Bin Taher Banten's remarks in stories early on Wednesday, saying that Muslims should "be patient” in making their plans for the Hajj. The pilgrimage was expected to begin in late July this year.
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