Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mosque operated at 100% capacity on Sunday, 17 October, for the first time since the pandemic. Worshippers praying shoulder-to-shoulder for the first time ever since the covid outbreak. Furthermore, social distancing markings on the floor, around the Kaaba, have also been removed.
“This is in line with the decision to ease precautionary measures and to allow pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Mosque at full capacity,” reported the official Saudi Press Agency.
Pictures and footage showed people praying, standing next to each other surfaced for the first time since the pandemic broke out last year. While social distancing stickers have been removed, vaccination and facemasks are still mandatory for visitors.
In August, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia started permitting vaccinated foreign tourists to enter the country. Saudi’s Ministry of Tourism said that tourists who have received both jabs of a vaccine approved by the kingdom, will be permitted entry. Visitors who have two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca or Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot can now enter the kingdom without quarantine.
Those who have taken the Sinopharm or Sinovac vaccines will be allowed to enter if they have also had a booster dose of any approved vaccine.
Is A PCR Test Required To Enter Saudi Arabia?
All travellers must submit a proof of PCR test with a negative result within 72 hours from the time of departure. Visitors are also required to register their data related to vaccination doses via the new electronic portal. However, entry of travellers from the 17 countries on the Saudi travel ban list, which includes the UAE, remains forbidden.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has also announced a three-year travel ban on its citizens if they visit any Covid-19 red list countries including India.