Saudi Arabia reveals Hajj restrictions

Attendees must be under 65 years of age, receive a coronavirus test and socially distance, among other measures for this year's Hajj pilgrimage.

al-monitor Muslims pray at the Grand Mosque during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in their holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 8, 2019.  Photo by REUTERS/Waleed Ali.

Jun 23, 2020

Authorities in Saudi Arabia specified details today about this year’s Hajj pilgrimage after announcing the major Islamic event would take place with a limited number of attendees.

Yesterday, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced the pilgrimage would occur with a “very limited number” of participants from various nationalities already present in Saudi Arabia due to the coronavirus pandemic. A Saudi official told The Associated Press today the figure would be only a few thousand people. Hajj usually brings more than 2 million Muslims from all around the world to Islam’s holiest city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia each year. In 2020, it will begin in late July.

Today, the ministry specified the restrictions under which this year’s much smaller Hajj will take place. Pilgrims will be quarantined both before and after the Hajj, the ministry said in a tweet.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency further reported that pilgrims must be under 65 years of age and not have any chronic diseases. They will be tested for COVID-19 before they reach the holy sites, and medical teams will accompany them. The pilgrims’ accommodations and visits to the sites will also be set up to allow for social distancing, according to the agency.

Saudi Arabia has been one of the hardest-hit countries in the region, with Mecca in particular having high numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases. The country has registered more than 3,000 cases several days in a row. There have been 164,144 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Saudi Arabia as of today, according to Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health statistics.

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