Only pilgrims and worshippers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recovered from coronavirus will be allowed to perform the year-round umrah pilgrimage from the start of Ramadan, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said on Monday, Gulf News reported.
The hajj and umrah ministry said in a statement that three categories of people would be considered "immunised" -- those who have received two doses of the vaccine, those administered a single dose at least 14 days prior, and people who have recovered from the infection.
Only those people will be eligible for permits to perform umrah, as well as to attend prayers in the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca.
The policy would effectively "raise the operational capacity" of the Grand Mosque during Ramadan, it said, adding that the condition also applies for entry into the Prophet's Mosque in the holy city of Medina.
The ministry said the policy starts with Ramadan, which is due to begin later this month, but it was unclear how long it would last.
It was also not clear whether the policy, which comes amid an uptick in coronavirus infections in the kingdom, would be extended to the annual hajj pilgrimage later this year.
Saudi Arabia has reported more than 393,000 coronavirus infections and 6,700 deaths from Covid-19.
It is unclear how many pilgrims will be allowed for hajj this year.
According to the pro-government Okaz newspaper, only vaccinated pilgrims will likely be permitted this year.
In a relaxation of coronavirus curbs last October, Saudi Arabia opened the Grand Mosque for prayers for the first time in seven months and partially resumed the umrah pilgrimage.