Saudi Arabia on Thursday said Pilgrims undertaking Umrah during Ramadan will not need to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but other precautions are in place to safeguard the faithful against the coronavirus.
Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage to Makkah and Madinah undertaken at any time of the year. The rite attracted 19 million people in 2019.
Saudi Arabia stopped the pilgrimage at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 but it restarted in limited numbers in October with slots booked through a government app.
“Until now, there are no requirements for pilgrims to obtain a coronavirus vaccine to perform Umrah during Ramadan. The permitted ages are between 18 and 70,” the Hajj and Umrah Ministry said on Twitter.
Those working in the Hajj and Umrah sectors are required to get vaccinated before the start of Ramadan this month, the ministry said.
Employees who are not vaccinated must provide a negative PCR test result every seven days, in line with broader rules brought in across the kingdom’s hospitality and service industries.