MECCA, Saudi Arabia
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, in which 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.
Mosques will be authorised to open 20 minutes before Friday prayers and should close 20 minutes after they finish, state TV said on Twitter, citing the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
The second phase will begin on June 21, in which 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.
Since the novel 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. [Source: Anadolu Agency and Aljazeera]