RIYADH: Saudi government authorities have decided to reopen mosques in Makkah from Sunday after three months closure due to the novel COVID-19 outbreak.
According to a notification issued by Saudi Islamic affairs ministry, “The mosques in the holy city will begin to reopen their doors to the faithful on Sunday after three months of closure due to the COVID-19 outbreak.”
The kingdom has taken restrictive steps against the COVID-19, especially in Makkah, however, the number of new COVID-19 cases has remarkably increased in recent days.
As per reports, some 1,500 holy sites are preparing to welcome visitors, Saudi state television reported, showing footage of workers disinfecting floors and carpets.
The decision comes weeks before the Haj. While Haj is set to be held in late July, authorities are yet to announce if it will go ahead or be canceled.
Mosques elsewhere in the country reopened at the end of May outside Makkah, however with strict rules imposing social distancing and other steps to limit the spread of COVID-19. The hardest-hit Gulf state, Saudi Arabia has reported over 150,000 COVID-19 cases, including nearly 1,200 deaths.
Saudi Arabia will also end a countrywide curfew and lift restrictions on businesses from Sunday morning after three months of lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19; state news agency SPA quoted a source in the interior ministry as saying on Saturday.
Restrictions will remain, however, for religious pilgrimages, international travel and social gatherings of more than 50 people. The novel coronavirus has killed at least 456,630 people across the world while the number of cases has reached 8.5 million.
At least 8,555,330 cases of coronavirus have been registered worldwide which includes 3,952,400 who are considered recovered.
The United States is the worst-hit country with 118,758 deaths from 2,205,307 cases. Brazil became the second country to cross one million cases as the death toll nears 50,000.