Makkah mosques reopen from Sunday

Saudi Arabia has announced to reopen mosques in Makkah on Sunday after a three months closure due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“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 coronavirus pandemic,” the state-run Al-Ekhbariya channel reported, citing a decision by the Islamic affairs ministry.

Some 1,500 holy sites are preparing to welcome visitors, the channel reported, showing footage of workers disinfecting floors and carpets. The kingdom has taken restrictive measures against the virus, particularly in Makkah, but the number of new coronavirus cases has notably increased in recent days. The decision comes weeks before the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

While the Hajj is set to be held in late July, authorities are yet to announce if it will go ahead or be cancelled.

Outside Mecca, mosques elsewhere in the country reopened at the end of May, but with strict rules imposing social distancing and other measures.

The hardest hit Gulf state, Saudi Arabia has reported over 150,000 virus cases, including nearly 1,200 deaths.

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