The barriers surrounding the Kaaba have been removed after two years of Covid-19 precautionary measures.
Pilgrims can now once again touch the holy Kaaba after a two-year precautionary measure put an end to such rituals.
On Tuesday, Saudi authorities removed protective barriers surrounding the black cube at Islam’s holiest site, Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, who leads the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques announced.
The barriers were installed as a preventative measure in July of 2020 when Covid-19 struck the globe.
The barrier was erected to enforce social distancing rules and protect pilgrims from cross-contamination. For the last to years, authorities have denied pilgrims the right to touch or kiss the Kaaba or the Hajar Al-Aswad (the Black Stone).
The area surrounding the Kaaba, which pilgrims circle seven times, was also shut down in March 2020 for sterilisation.
However, as countries around the world move to drop Covid-19 restrictions, authorities deemed it safe enough to return to pre-pandemic normalities.
“The protective barriers around #الكعبة_المشرفة [the Holy Kaaba] have been lifted after a royal order from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman,” the Two Holy Mosques authorities said in a tweet.
Sheikh Al-Sudais said noted authorities are working with all the sectors operating at the Grand Mosque to receive Umrah pilgrims and provide them with all services and facilities.
The move comes just weeks after the end of this year’s annual Hajj pilgrimage, the largest pilgrimage of its kind since the coronavirus pandemic brought much of the world to a standstill.
In 2020, Saudi Arabia imposed strict rules allowing just 1,000 locals from within the kingdom to attend the annual pilgrimage.
This year, authorities set a limit of just 1 million pilgrims – almost half the usual annual number.
Now, pilgrims from around the world are flocking to Mecca and Medina to perform the lesser Umrah pilgrimage, which can be done at any time of the year outside of the Hajj season.