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Grand Mosque receives first pilgrims after six-month curb

The Grand Mosque of Makkah has received the first group of pilgrims performing Umrah, after more than six months— with the exception of Hajj, in a welcome sign of a new beginning, Arab News reported.
According to the reports, as many as 1.8 billion Muslims around the world will rejoice as the first lucky Umrah pilgrims enter the mosque at 6 a.m. on Sunday after applying through the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s Eatmarna app.

The kingdom took drastic measures to tackle the pandemic and suspended the Umrah pilgrimage and prayers in mosques in mid-March. Saudi Arabia also stopped international flights and implemented a lockdown to avoid virus cases reaching unprecedented levels.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has prepared five meeting points to accommodate a quota of 6,000 pilgrims per day including the Al-Gaza, Ajyad and Al-Shasha sites, where pilgrims will meet and join health professionals on buses to the Grand Mosque, said reports.

Read More: Saudi Arabia Announces Phase-wise Resumption of Umrah From Oct 4

Welcoming the first arrivals, thermal cameras have been placed at the entrances and inside halls of the Grand Mosque of Kaaba to monitor body temperature spikes and issue alerts if necessary.

The plan was put in place to ensure visitors’ safety and allow a rapid response to potential virus cases.

The General Presidency of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, in cooperation with other authorities, has completed preparations to receive the pilgrims with strict precautionary and preventive measures.

Reportedly, about 1,000 employees have been trained to monitor the rituals of Umrah in the Grand Mosque. The mosque will be cleaned 10 times a day between each group’s presence, the reports added.

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