Saudi Arabia announced that they would lift COVID-19 restrictions from the 17th with the use of facemasks no longer mandatory in most outdoor settings. Social distancing will no longer be required in public places like restaurants, mosques, and cinemas as long as people are fully vaccinated. These locations will now be allowed to operate in full capacity for the first time in over a year.
How this affects Muslims
The Ministry of Health announced that although social distancing is no longer mandatory in the Grand Mosque in Makkah, and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, these will be among the few places where face masks are still mandatory, despite being a public setting. You also still need to make a reservation to visit these Holy sites,
It was a moment of joy for Muslims around the world when worshippers at the Grand Mosque were seeing praying shoulder to shoulder; something which was previously banned due to COVID-19 for more than a year. The Holy Mosque is the most sacred site for Muslims around the world as they offer their prayers facing the direction of the Kabah, located in the Grand Mosque.
Policy Update for the Public
Dr. Saad Bin Muhammad Al-Muhaimid, Secretary General of the Presidency of Affairs of the Grand Mosque, said in a statement, “We are ready to launch a plan to ease precautions at all departments and sectors, allowing all services to return in full capacity”,
According to the Saudi Press Agency, Al-Muhaimid is actively keeping checks on all precautionary measures taking place in the two Holy Sites to ensure all policies are being followed properly,
Public transport and wedding halls are now also open at full capacity but, just like other public places, there are some strict measures put in place to ensure the safety of the general public. All entrances of such public places must perform temperature checks through approved devices and trained individuals. Health statuses must be confirmed via the approved government apps and sanitizers must be available at every corner.
New Travel Policy
According to news sources from Saudi Arabia, travelling by both land and air is now permitted to individuals who are fully vaccinated with at least two approved doses. The kingdom has approved Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines for use. It is worth noting that children under the age of 12 are exempt from this rule and citizens are advised to check their status on the appropriate and authorized government apps before traveling,
The Ministry of Health has confirmed that they will continue to monitor the number of COVID-19 cases since the update on covid restrictions. If they feel the COVID-19 situation get more critical, they will re-introduce strict measures to bring everything back in control.