Mask-clad pilgrims immunized against the coronavirus performed Umrah in batches in Saudi Arabia’s Mecca on Tuesday, the first day of the holy month of Ramadan.
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The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah limited the number of pilgrims allowed to perform the ritual as a preventative measure against the virus.
The capacity of people allowed in the Grand Mosque during Ramadan has been set at 50,000 pilgrims and 100,000 worshippers per day to prevent crowding and ensure social distancing measures are enforced, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The number is a strong contrast from the millions of worshippers who were allowed to perform the year-round ritual prior to the pandemic.
Only immunized groups – those who received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, those who received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine 14 days earlier, and those who have recovered from the disease – have been allowed to apply for a permit.
The permits grant pilgrims the ability to perform Umrah and attend prayers in the Grand Mosque during Ramadan, according to the Hajj and Umrah ministry.
Ramadan marks the month when Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. It is often celebrated with prayers, charity donations, and gatherings with friends and family.