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Saudi Arabia Reveals Guidelines for ‘Limited’ Hajj

by Newsweek Pakistan

File photo of Hajj 2019. Fethi Belaid—AFP

State-run media says pilgrims will be barred from touching the Ka’aba and will be required to maintain 1.5-meter distance from each other

Saudi Arabia on Monday announced guidelines for its “limited” Hajj, designed to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus among “domestic” pilgrims who have been allowed to participate in the annual rite.

According to state-run media, the Gulf kingdom has barred pilgrims from touching the Ka’aba, the holiest site in Islam. In addition, pilgrims would be required to maintain social distancing of 1.5 meters between each other during all the rituals, including mass prayers and the circling of the Ka’aba.

A statement issued by the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) said that access to holy Hajj sites at Mona, Muzdalifah and Arafat would be limited to pilgrims with permits covering July 19 till Aug. 2. It said that wearing masks would be mandatory for both pilgrims and organizers at all times.

Last month, Saudi Arabia announced it was banning international visitors from making the annual Hajj pilgrimage due to the COVID-19 pandemic and would limit the number of domestic visitors who would be allowed to participate in the annual rite. The Gulf kingdom has since said it would only allow around 1,000 pilgrims this year.

Annually, an estimated two million people make the annual pilgrimage, visiting Mecca and Medina to fulfill one of the five pillars of Islam.

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