Mecca to allow entry from May 31 after 2-month coronavirus shutdown

Mecca to allow entry from May 31 after 2-month coronavirus shutdown


Saudi Arabia announced a “two-phase normalization plan” early Thursday for Mecca with the aim of easing coronavirus measures and gradually returning to normal life.

The first phase will begin on May 31, when entering and exiting Mecca will be allowed between 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Friday prayers and other congregational prayers at the Grand Mosque (Masjid al-Haram) will continue in line with existing health measures, the statement said.

The second phase will begin on June 21 when citizens will be allowed outside between 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The statement also said that coiffeurs and barbers will not be allowed to open yet while weddings and funerals can be attended by 50 people at most.

Saudi Arabia had barred entry or exit from Riyadh, Mecca and Medina on March 25 to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The government had also restricted movement between provinces, halted international flights, suspended the umrah year-round pilgrimage, closed mosques, schools, malls and restaurants, and imposed a nighttime curfew.

Since the coronavirus emerged last December in the Chinese city of Wuhan, it has spread to at least 188 countries and regions.

There are more than 5.6 million confirmed infections globally with nearly 355,000 deaths, while an excess of 2.3 million people have recovered.