Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia have embarked on the first day of rituals after self-isolating in a designated hotel amid strict coronavirus preventative measures, the official Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.
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A health leader has been assigned to each group of 50 pilgrims to ensure safety measures, including wearing a mask and social distancing, are implemented at all times, according to SPA.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Kingdom has only allowed those living in the country who meet certain criteria to participate in this year’s Hajj pilgrimage, which takes place in the Islamic holy city of Mecca. The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and required for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime.
This year’s participants will gather daily at a meeting point in front of the hotel as designated by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to be transported via buses to the city’s holy sites. Each individual has been assigned a seat for the entire duration of the Hajj pilgrimage, according to an Al Arabiya correspondent.
The pilgrims were required to isolate at home for seven days prior to arriving in Mecca in line with the requirements to participate in the pilgrimage.
Upon their arrival in King Abdulaziz International Airport, the pilgrims went through a screening process before being transferred to the designated hotel where they were required to self-isolate until the start of the Hajj processions.
In February, authorities in Saudi Arabia suspended entry for individuals going on the Umrah pilgrimage due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. In June, Kingdom authorities decided to allow a “limited Hajj” of about 1,000 people to take place.
Photos: Hajj before and after COVID-19
Hajj amid the coronavirus outbreak looks nothing like previous Hajj seasons due to precautionary measures. Scroll below to see photos of the pilgrimage rituals before and after the COVID-19 pandemic.