Saudi Arabia announces safety measures for Hajj pilgrims this year

Touching the Kaaba will not be allowed

Hajj is a huge religious tourism driver
Hajj is a huge religious tourism driver

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has banned gatherings and meetings around the Hajj this year in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Authorities have also announced a range of health and hygiene measures to ensure the religious pilgrimage is carried out safely.

The Kingdom announced in June that it would limit Hajj season to just 1,000 pilgrims, a first for the Arab country in modern history. Last year, the religious event drew in more than two million pilgrims, acting as a huge religious tourism driver for the country.

Touching the Kaaba will be banned this year, and pilgrims will have to social distance themselves by one and a half metres during the rituals including mass prayers and performing tawaf (walking around the Kaaba seven times), a statement by the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said.

Starting from July 19 until August 2, access to Hajj sites at Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat will be limited to those with permits, with mask use being mandatory for everyone.

Hajj will be limited to those below 65 and with no chronic illnesses. The pilgrims will also be tested for the virus before entering Mecca and must quarantine at home afterwards.

Hajj is a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetimes, with many using their life savings to fund the trip.

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