LOADING CLOSE

Health Protocols for Prevention COVID-19 in the Two Holy Mosques During Umrah and Visiting Period

Professionals & Health Workers

Before Entering the Workplace

Requirements before arriving in the kingdom

People who are coming from outside the kingdom for umrah or visiting the Two Holy Mosques are required to:

  • Adherence to the requirements and guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health regarding those coming to Umrah, the required vaccinations, and health certificates according to each country.
  • Adherence to the aviation protocols regarding the necessary procedures for those coming from outside the kingdom and the measures taken when there is a suspected case of Covid-19 disease inside the plane.
  • Adherence to the health requirements of the guide for dealing with those coming from outside the Kingdom. (Quarantine – Isolation).
Requirements to be taken on the plane and upon arrival at the airport
  • If any passenger shows respiratory symptoms (high temperature, cough, and shortness of breath) while on plane, the passenger should ask help from the cabin crew immediately.
  • If there is a passenger suffers from respiratory symptoms while on plane, according to the Aircraft General Declaration that the transport’s operator should provide the required data of the case to the health monitoring center at the port (Annex 9 of the International Health Regulation). Also, the passenger locator form should be filled out when there is a suspected case on the plane, and contact information of the passenger should be included, in accordance with the manual of the International Air Transport Association.
  • The captain of the aircraft must inform the health authorities at the airport of arrival about the passenger with respiratory symptoms before the plane arrives.
  • Upon receiving a report of a traveler on the plane showing respiratory symptoms, the plane is dealt with according to the procedures that are in (The Manual of Work Policies and Procedures in Health Control Centers at Ports for Return of Passenger Traffic in Light of the New Corona Pandemic – Update 2 September 2020).
  • In case there is no report of suspected case on the plane, the following procedures are taken upon arrival:
    1. A special track or bus is allocated for Umrah performers to transport them to the arrival hall, and it must not include other passengers.
    2. Umrah performers and visitors will be examined immediately upon disembarking from the plane by going through designated tracks, by asking measuring temperature and asking about respiratory symptoms (coughing, shortness of breath, sore throat, and runny nose) or a sudden loss of their sense of taste and smell.
  • In case there are umrah performers showing symptoms, the next procedures must be followed:
    1. The health condition of the umrah performers is evaluated and a laboratory sample is taken at the airport.
    2. If the patient’s condition is stable, he will be isolated in the designated residence and obligated to wear a smart bracelet.
    3. The patient will be isolated in health facility if his condition is unstable.
    4. If there is a confirmed case, follow the instructions of the guide for dealing with people coming from outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Quarantine – Home isolation).
    5. Suspected or confirmed cases should be prevented from visiting or performing Umrah until it is confirmed that they are completely recovered according to the attending physician’s report.
    6. Umrah performers and visitors’ data and their residence must be taken before they leave the airport for reference in the investigation processes.
    7. A member of the health staff is assigned to educate those in charge of each cohort about COVID-19 and distribute educational leaflets to them.
    8. Umrah performers and visitors will be registered on the Eatmarna application, and other applications that are designed to monitor the health status of them such as Tetamman, Tawakkalna and Tabaud or obliging them to wear the smart bracelet to organize Umrah and so that health authorities can follow them during home isolation.

Passport Area

  • Allocate a track for Umrah performers and visitors at the passport counter, with social distancing stickers placed on the floor for not less than one and a half meters.
  • Supervisors must be assigned to organize the umrah performers and visitors and prevent crowding.
  • Passport employees must wear masks and disinfect their hands after handling the documents of umrah performers.
  • Allocate a worker to disinfect the fingerprint device after each use.
  • Passport employees must ask each induvial to disinfect his hands before and after using the fingerprint device.
  • A track or counter must be allocated for suspected cases, provided that it is separate from other tracks, and employees must wear masks, gloves, protective clothing, and disinfect devices before re-using them.

Customs Area

  • Assign a supervisor and place stickers on the floor to prevent the crowding while waiting for luggage inspection.
  • Customs employees must wear masks always and avoid touching travelers’ belongings.
  • When inspection luggage, the employee must wear gloves and disposed of after the inspection process is completed and he must disinfect his hands.

Transfer Requirements

  • Allocate buses to each group while ensuring social distancing by leaving at least one empty seat between each passenger and the other, except for families.
  • Reduce the bus capacity to less than 50%.
  • Prevent crowding and organize passengers.
  • Adhere to all the requirements contained in the bus protocols.

Housing Requirements

Coordinate with the companies that responsible for Umrah trips to allocate housing that meets the following conditions:

  1. Allocate a housing or floor to each group of umrah performers whose coming on the same flight.
  2. Provide an isolation room that meet the requirements of home isolation.
  3. Establish an appropriate communication mechanism with the Ministry of Health for Umrah performers, such as providing a hotline in every residence.
  4. Reduce the capacity of the housing that allocating to the visitors and Umrah performers to the half.
  5. The number of people must not exceed two per room, with social distancing of no less than a meter and a half between the beds.
  6. It is prohibited for Umrah performers and visitors to leave the designated residence before the end of the home isolation period for individuals who have symptoms.
  7. Assign supervisors and security guards in each hotel to organize the exit of Umrah performers and visitors, and to provide all requirements during the isolation period.
  8. Companies and tourism offices must commit to implementing the Eatmarna application.
  9. Apply the requirements of tourist accommodation facilities protocols (hotels, furnished apartments).
  10. Prevent open buffets when serving food, and restaurant protocols must be applied.

General Requirements

  • It is preferable to provide thermal cameras to measure the temperature of the Two Holy Mosques’ visitors. The cameras must cover all entrances of the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque.
  • Establishing a checkpoint at all entrances to the Two Holy Mosques, including measuring the temperature with a device approved by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, and asking about the following symptoms: fever, coughing, shortness of breath, sore throat, sudden loss of sense of taste and smell, runny nose for all visitors and Umrah performers.
  • Prevent any visitor who shows respiratory symptoms or fever from entering the Two Holy mosques and report them immediately and deal with them according to the protocols for suspected cases.
  • Ensure that all visitors and umrah performers wear masks and provide them to anyone.
  • It is preferable to wear masks for those under the age of seven, and it is prohibited for those under two years.
  • Allocate entrances and exits and assign organizers at the doors to ensure the entry and exit process of visitors and Umrah performers, prevent crowding and stampede and ensure that social distancing is maintained between them, and it is preferable that the organizers be security men.
  • Prevent the entry of drinks and food to the holy mosques and prohibit eating in the expansion area (outside the mosques).
  • Preventing entry of containers intended for storing Zamzam water, or cups and multi-use utensils.
  • All employees and those in charge of serving visitors and Umrah performers, and the workers who in responsible for transporting visitors in wheelchairs, must adhere to wearing masks at all times and dispose of it in the proper way and in the designated place.
  • Preventing crowding in bathrooms and ablution sinks by placing floor stickers or disable using several bathrooms or sinks to ensure a safe distance of one and half meters between individuals.
  • Increasing the number of cleaning workers in toilets and allocating supervisors to regulate entry to toilets and prevent crowding.
  • Hand sanitizers should be distributed and placed in prominent places at doors and toilets so that they are easily accessible by all visitors to the Two Holy Mosques and the Holy Places.
  • Tissues must be distributed in the bathrooms and other prominent places.
  • The used chairs and wheelchairs should be disinfected regularly after every use.
  • Shoes places should be cleaned and disinfected periodically.
  • Clean and disinfect toilets every two hours, with ensuring good ventilation and reducing the temperature inside toilets.
  • Use signs to ensure social distancing of one and a half meters is applied between individuals on escalators or regular stairs.
  • Adhere to disinfect surfaces that frequently touched such as the doors handles.
  • Dirt must be removed with soap and water before disinfection and for disinfection, follow the instructions included in the practical guide for cleaning and disinfection for public facilities to combat Covid-19 infection issued by the Saudi Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
  • A schedule of disinfection times for surfaces and toilets should be kept.
  • Provide no-touch waste bin and dispose of the waste constantly.
  • Remove Qur’ans and urge worshipers to bring their Qur’ans with them or read from mobile.
  • Apply the mosque protocols regarding the preventive requirements during prayer.
  • Men’s barbershop protocols must be adhered to regarding umrah performers shaving and shortening.
  • Worshippers and visitors shall be regulated through licenses taken from the Etamarna application when visiting the following places:
    1. The Prophet’s Mosque
    2. Rawdah ash-Sharifah (The Noble Garden)
    3. Quba Mosque
    4. Jabal al Nour
    5. Cemetery of Uhud Martyrs

Regarding the Grand Mosque in Makkah

  • Allocate some tracks for the elderly and those with chronic diseases during Tawaf and Sa’i.
  • The Umrah performers must be regulated according to the application of Etamarna to the Mataaf and will be divided into groups in all Mataaf floors, in a way that guarantees a distance of at least one and a half meters between each person and the other and reduces crowding with placing floor stickers and allocating organizers of security men to ensure the organization.
  • Prevent touching or kissing al-Ka’bah al-Musharrafah or the Black Stone and set barriers and supervisors for that.
  • Mataaf and Masaa must disinfect periodically after each group of umrah performers end their Umrah performing.
  • Reduce close contact between the Grand Mosque’s visitors, prevent the large crowds, and adhere to the social distancing for at least one and a half meters between each person by placing stickers or signs on the floor in corridors, prayer areas, and waiting areas.
  • Prevent the use of Zamzam water coolers and disrupting them temporarily. If allowed, crowding at Zamzam water coolers for drinking must be prevented and floor stickers should be placed to ensure social distancing.

Regarding visiting Madinah al-Munawarah

  • Reduce the visiting period to the Prophet’s grave (PBUH), and the graves of his two companions Abu Bakr and Omar and ensure a safe distance between visitors to the Prophet’s Mosque of not less than one and a half meters, taking into consideration not to crowd in the Rawdah ash-Sharifah (The Noble Garden) by placing floor stickers and allocating supervisors from the security guard.
  • Visit must be scheduled with specific dates that visitors should know it in advance, so that no crowding and randomness are happen.
  • Allocate special gate for entry and other for exit and ensure a unified direction from the gates.
  • Place floor stickers to ensure the social distancing of one and a half meters.
  • Place guide signs in the prayer areas and in Rawdah ash-Sharifah (The Noble Garden) while maintain the social distancing between visitors and urge the worshipers to bring their rugs with them.
  • Regular cleaning and disinfection between visits to the places and surfaces that are frequently touched.

Reporting and symptoms monitoring

  • Measure the temperature of all those in charge of the affairs of the Two Holy Mosques and all workers daily before the starting the work.
  • Prevent any worker who shows influenza-like symptoms (high temperature- coughing- runny nose- sore throat) from working or entering the Two Holy Mosques until he recovered according to the physician’s report.
  • Report cases among the umrah performers, visitors, those in charge of the affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, and the workers that have high fever or respiratory symptoms (cough or shortness of breath) and are suspected of having COVID-19 and they should prevent from entering the Two Holy Mosques. Record their data and call 937 to obtain the required directions to transfer the case to hospital.
  • It is necessary to cooperate with the Ministry of Health in the process of monitoring people who were in contact with a positive case, in order to apply the epidemiological investigation procedures and home quarantine according to the procedures followed by the public health team.
  • Isolation room must be prepared in the worker housing for suspected cases of those in charge of the Two Holy Mosque to be isolated in, until they are contacted by competent authorities. (Please refer to the health requirements guide for workers’ accommodations to combat COVID-19).

Awareness and communication

  • Employees in charge of the affairs of the Two Holy Mosques and the workers must be educated about the symptoms of the disease, means of disease transmission, and its dangers. Also, they must be educated to avoid going to work and apply home isolation if they experienced any respiratory symptoms (coughing or shortness of breath) or a high temperature.
  • Educate employees who are in charge of the affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, worshipers and visitors about the necessarily to disclose any respiratory symptoms (coughing or shortness of breath) or high temperature by calling 937 and following the home isolation instructions.
  • Distribute awareness brochures to umrah performers and visitors, put them in all mosques’ entries, and place them at visible places. The brochures must include the following:
    • Methods of disease transmission and prevention.
    • Raise awareness of washing hands and avoiding touching the eyes, nose, and mouth before washing hands, and urge attention to personal and health care.
    • Follow the etiquette of sneezing and coughing (use a tissue and dispose it as soon as possible, use the elbow by bending the arm).
  • Continued warning of the importance of adhering to the guidelines of safety and protection from the disease.
  • Urge visitors to not bring their children who are younger than 7 years to perform umrah or visit the Two Holy Mosques.
  • Educate and urge the elderly and those with chronic diseases to postpone Umrah and visiting to the Two Holy Mosques through the passport platform when issuing the visa for Umrah.
  • Educate visitors not to bring food and containers to store water, in order to reduce the risk of infection transmission.
  • Educate the umrah performers to avoid bringing or using shaving tools in the Grand Mosque, such as scissors, and they must be made aware of the seriousness of this in the transmission of infection.

Implementation

  • Place a panel that includes a statement of the violation and the method for reporting them.
  • Communication channels should be established for those in charge of food services to report violations of requirements in order to avoid them.
  • Train staff at checkpoints on the method of examination and the use of a temperature measuring device.
  • Assign a health inspector to ensure the implementation of the requirements and instructions and follow up the health status of Umrah performers and visitors.
  • Conduct mandatory health and safety training on COVID-19 for all employees.
Appendix (1): Groups at higher risk of infection