The Grand Mosque in the holy city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia operated at full capacity Sunday, with worshippers praying shoulder-to-shoulder for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Workers removed floor markings that guide people to social distance in and around the Grand Mosque, which is built around the Holy Kaaba.
"This is in line with the decision to ease precautionary measures and to allow pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Mosque at full capacity," reported the official Saudi Press Agency.
Pictures and footage on Sunday morning showed people praying side by side, making straight rows of worshippers that are formations revered in performing prayers, for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold last year.
While social distancing measures were lifted, the authorities said visitors must be fully vaccinated against coronavirus and must continue to wear masks on mosque grounds.
Also, the Holy Kaaba remained cordoned off and out of reach.
Saudi Arabia announced in August it will begin accepting vaccinated foreigners wanting to make the umrah pilgrimage.
In July, only around 60,000 inoculated residents were allowed to take part in a vastly scaled down form of the annual haj.
Saudi Arabia also announced that fully-inoculated sports fans will from Sunday be allowed to attend events at all stadiums and other sports facilities, reported SPA.
It has also said that masks in most open spaces are no longer mandatory.
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