Riyadh: After 2.5 years, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday removed the protective barriers around the holy Kaaba that were erected as a precautionary measure as part of efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The General President of the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, Sheikh Dr Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz Al-Sudais on Tuesday announced the issuance of the kind approval to lift the protective barriers around the Kaaba, coinciding with the start of the Umrah season.

Al-Sudais stressed that this decision embodies the wise leadership’s interest in visitors to the Grand Mosque and facilitating their rituals and worship in a safe and reassuring spiritual atmosphere, especially with the intensity that the Holy Mosque began to witness in conjunction with the Umrah season.

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It is noteworthy that on Tuesday, July 1, 2020, for the first time, the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques placed barriers around the Kaaba, in implementation of the instructions of the National Center for the Prevention of the COVID-19 virus, including preventing pilgrims from touching or kissing the Kaaba or the Black Stone.

On March 4, 2020, Saudi Arabia decided to temporarily suspend Umrah for citizens and residents; for fear of the spread of the COVID-19, the authorities also decided to prevent visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.

On March 5, 2022, the Kingdom has lifted most COVID-19 restrictions. This included scrapping social distancing among worshippers at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque. However, worshippers are required to wear face masks.

On June 13, 2022, Saudi Arabia announced the lifting of precautionary and preventive measures related to combating the COVID-19 pandemic