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Pilgrims begin arriving at Makkah Great Mosque; Special measures for Hajj

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RIYADH, July 17: Managers of pilgrimage companies have affirmed that forthcoming pilgrimage will be easy amid extraordinary health measures planned by the authorities to safeguard the pilgrims. The Saudi authorities have decided to restrict the annual Hajj to pilgrims from inside the Kingdom as one of the precautions against the novel coronavirus (COVID- 19). Only 60,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform the rituals at the sacred sites amid the anti-virus precautions.

Abdulrahman Al-Haqbani, the chairperson of the coordination council of the internal pilgrims services companies, said in remarks to KUNA that the pilgrims to be allowed to perform the Hajj are of 150 nationalities. The pilgrims’ services companies have been informed by the authorities about the extraordinary precautions and have trained their staff on observing the special measures. Al-Haqbani said pilgrims must erect their tents in Mina, Muzadalifa and on Mount Arafat four meters apart. The devotees will be provided with packaged food and will be banned from eating in groups.

Dr. Mohammad Shukri, manager of a company for serving pilgrims, said the extraordinary measures will be effected in the pilgrims’ transports, housing and performing the religious services. He indicated that the relevant authorities and the services companies have been coordinating online and via applications to regulate the pilgrims’ movement.

First batches of pilgrims arrived on Saturday at Al-Masjid Al-Haram (the Great Mosque of Makkah) to perform tawaf al-qudoum, the arrival circling of the Kaaba, amid extraordinary health precautions. The Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umra has set July 17-18 as the date for hosting the pilgrims, tasking a guide for each group of 20 pilgrims. Usama Al-Hujaili, the director of the gatherings’ affairs at the Great Mosque, said in remarks to the official Saudi Press Agency that necessary preparations to host the devotees had been taken. Up to 500 personnel have tasked to oversee tawaf al-qudoum and make sure that the pilgrims perform the rites amid the necessary precautions against the novel coronavirus. The authorities have announced that this pilgrimage is restricted to only 60,000 residents of the kingdom, as an extraordinary precaution against (KUNA)

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