The Agency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque under the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques is currently carrying out extensive studies about the entire aspects of its crowd control plan prior to partial opening of the Grand Mosque for performers of Umrah and Tawaf (circumambulation around the Holy Kaaba).
Allowing entry into a maximum 40 percent of the capacity of the Grand Mosque is the major highlight of the plan.
The agency represented by the General Department of Safety, Security and the Crowd Management at the Grand Mosque in working out the plan; implemented strictly in line with the precautionary measures and preventive protocols to stem the spread of coronavirus.
The plan included exploring pre-registering data and contact numbers of the visitors of the Grand Mosque upon entry; and setting aside of doors for the entry and exit to avoid mingling of the faithful.
Another highlight of the plan is setting up of thermal cameras to measure the temperature of visitors at the entrances. Those with high temperatures will be prevented from entering and referred to specialists from the Ministry of Health to carry out necessary screening to know whether being infected with the virus or not.
The faithful will get educational materials to make aware of the pandemic precautions, in addition to setting up of signboards to make aware about precautionary measures such as hand washing, using sanitizers, not shaking hands, and etiquette for sneezing.
The social distancing measures will be ensured among all the faithful at all times and preventing the occurrence of crowding as well as not allowing any person who has symptoms or has been in contact with a confirmed case within the last 14 days. Wearing mask will be mandatory for entry to the holy mosque.
The plan also included allowing Umrah pilgrims to enter mataf (area for circumambulation) through King Fahd Gate and exit through the Al-Safa Door and Al-Nabi Bridge. While setting doors 89 and 94 aside for the entry of those other than Umrah pilgrims to enter the ground floor of mataf for the purpose of performing tawaf and their exit shall be through Ajyad Door.
As for those non-Umrah pilgrims coming from the southern side and western side; they have to enter the first floor of mataf. This is through the doors of Ajyad and Shubaika Flyover respectively. While their exit shall be through escalators and Al-Safa Bridge.
King Fahd Staircases and Shubaika Escalator shall be set aside for the entry to the upper floor of the King Fahd Expansion area of the Grand Mosque. King Fahd Expansion and King Abdullah Expansion will be set aside for performing prayer. While mataf will be exclusively for the prayer of Umrah pilgrims.
With allotting the ground, first and second floors of the holy mosque to those performing tawaf. Besides, allowing elderly people and people with special needs to use the second floor.
There will be three tracks with plastic barriers designated for tawaf to ensure social distancing with area for crowd control. The first and second floors of mataf will have two tracks each. The ground and first floors of masa; (area for sai) will be for sai; (ritual walking between Safa and Marwa).
The exit for those performing sai on the ground floor will be Marwa Door. While the entry to the first floor of masa will be through Al-Nabi Bridge and Al-Safa Door. Exit will be through Marwa Bridge and Al-Raquba Escalators.
The plan also stressed the importance of minimizing the entry points to Makkah since early hours especially on Friday; and controlling the crowd along main roads and arteries leading to the Grand Mosque.
It also underlined the need to close the central Haram area; especially on Friday. Besides, encouraging hotel occupants to perform prayers inside their premises. This is to limit the number of those who enter the holy mosque.
The plan also calls for obtaining permit to visit the Grand Mosque; by applying on Tawakkalna application to limit the visitors number. Besides, not allowing those residing outside the holy city to enter the city; from 9.00 am till 8.00 pm without a permit, especially on Friday.