Saudi Arabia updates Covid regulations for Umrah pilgrims
The new rules, which come into effect on Wednesday, require pilgrims to take the tests no more than 48 hours before travel.
Currently, only Saudi nationals and residents cake make the Hajj pilgrimage, but Riyadh opened its borders for foreign Umrah pilgrims last summer.
The ministry added that the rules will apply to all travellers regardless of vaccination status.
Pilgrims will be required to show proof of vaccination using the country's Tawakkalna app for access to the Grand Mosque of Mecca and the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah. Umrah and prayer slots are also booked via the app.
The latest regulations follow the Saudi interior ministry's announcement on Sunday that all Saudi citizens will be required to take a vaccination booster shot for international travel.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Saudi authorities have introduced a number of measures to mitigate infection numbers, including by reducing visitor numbers and investing in state-of the-art cleaning equipment at the two holy sanctuaries.
In July, only around 60,000 inoculated residents were allowed to take part in a vastly scaled-down form of the annual Hajj.
The Covid-19 pandemic has hugely disrupted both Muslim pilgrimages, which are usually key revenue earners for the kingdom that rake in a combined $12 billion annually.