On 3rd Oct 2021, Saudi Arabia’s ministry of health granted permission for performing Hajj and Umrah to fully vaccinated pilgrims. With the launch of the Tawakkalna application, the ministry and authorities can track the vaccination status of any individual. Advancement in technology for tracking and curbing COVID-19 has proved beneficial in conducting safe Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage. One such advancement is the application for registration of e-visa for Hajj and Umrah.
Umrah And Hajj During COVID-19 In 2021
At times new strains of COVID-19 infections were spreading worldwide, the authorities put strict restrictions on Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage. In July, only 60,000 people came to perform Hajj in comparison to an average of 2 million Hajj pilgrims every year. The allowed pilgrims were fully inoculated with the doses of Oxford’s AstraZeneca, and Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
As per the latest data, currently, Saudi reports– 545k total cases and 8.78k deaths due to COVID-19. However, the cases have seen a significant decline in the past few weeks. Consequently, authorities are preparing to permit foreign pilgrims at full capacity.
Mobile Application – E-Visa For Hajj And Umrah
Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi minister of foreign affairs, announced the launch of an electronic visa registration smartphone-based application. The authorities will disclose the name of the app, its specifications, and necessary fields for the form registrations very soon. The application will ease the pressure from people gathering at the visas centers and possibly catching infections.
The biometric application will prove beneficial for people who are not aware of the new protocols. Some experts assume that it will contain guidelines that have to be followed while performing Umrah and Hajj. Pilgrims will have to submit necessary documents along with a certificate for vaccination. The authorities will verify the details and automatically grant e-visas according to the authenticity of the details.
Masjid Al-Haram To Work At Full Capacity
Another major news came from Masjid Al-Haram on 17th Oct 2021. The authorities at Grand Mosque are lifting off restrictions on the numbers of pilgrims to perform Hajj and Umrah. They took this decision considering the decline in COVID-19 cases and increasing inquiries for pilgrimage. Local media are publishing pictures and footage of people praying alongside maintaining minimal social distance. Though social distancing has been relaxed in Al-Haram, pilgrims will still have to wear masks at all times within the perimeter of the mosque.
Saudi Arabia has also lifted bans from many countries, including India, for the pilgrimage. These countries fell under red names due to COVID-19’s severity. As the world has considerably recovered from the havoc caused by COVID-19’s new strains, Saudi Arabia is steadily opening doors for these countries.
Authorities are using various mobile applications to track the individuals arriving in Makkah for the pilgrimages. These applications will tell the vaccination status, individual’s infection status, visa’s authenticity, and much more. Authorities request pilgrims to follow the guidelines provided by the authorities and keep themselves posted with any updates.
Moreover, several online portals and support stations are present to help pilgrims with their questions and answers related to Hajj and Umrah. Authorities request worshippers to take full advantage of such centers for safe pilgrimage.