Worshippers shoulder-to-shoulder again, Makkah social distancing dropped
Worshippers are praying shoulder-to-shoulder again in Masjid al-Haram, Makkah for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Social distancing has also been suspended at the the Prophet's (PBUH) masjid in Madinah.
The official Saudi Press Agency said: "This is in line with the decision to ease precautionary measures and to allow pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Mosque at full capacity."
Workers removed the social distancing stickers from the floor and soon pictures and footage emerged on Sunday showing people praying side by side in straight rows.
The authorities said worshippers will have to be fully vaccinated and still need to wear a mask. The Kaaba remains cordoned off.
The relaxation of the rules comes as a response to the sharp drop in daily infections in the country and the successful rollout of vaccinations.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year only 60,000 vaccinated people were allowed to perform Hajj. The attendance was strictly limited to citizens and residents of Saudi Arabia.
It was the second consecutive year that Saudi Arabia did not allow foreign visitors to visit the country to perform Hajj.