Muslims gather at Haram Sharif to offer first Jumma without COVID restrictions


MAKKAH: After the Saudi government relaxed COVID-19 restrictions pertaining to holy sites, Muslims are flocking to the Grand Mosque in Makkah today to offer Jumma (Friday) prayers en masse. 

Today’s will be the first Friday prayer to be offered in months at the Grand Mosque with a full strength of worshippers allowed by Saudi authorities. 

Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, head of the Haramain Sharifain, has directed the authorities to ensure appropriate arrangements for the visiting faithful. 

The mosque administration said that 50 additional entrances to the Grand Mosque will be opened today for worshippers hoping to join others for the Friday prayer. 

The inner courtyards and walkways of the Grand Mosque will be constantly sanitised to ensure a safe environment for worshippers. 

More than 4,000 officials, men and women, have been deputed to oversee the worshippers for Friday prayers. 

Wearing a mask is mandatory and thermal cameras have been deployed at various areas to screen out potentially sick people. 

More than 50,000 bottles of ZamZam water have also been provided for worshippers in different spots within the Grand Mosque. 

The Grand Mosque had returned to operating at full capacity on Sunday, with worshippers allowed to pray shoulder-to-shoulder for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.

However, authorities said visitors must be fully vaccinated and must continue to wear masks within the mosque.

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