Authorities announced restrictions and measures surrounding this year's Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca which will take place between Tuesday, July 28, and Sunday, August 2, amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Saudi authorities have limited the number of pilgrims, which usually attracts several millions of Muslims from around the world, to around 1000 Saudi residents in efforts to ensure the safety of the pilgrims during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pilgrims who have been selected to perform the Hajj this year are required to undergo testing and quarantine; reports indicate that they began a seven-day quarantine on Sunday, July 19, and will also be required to self-quarantine for a second period after they have performed Hajj. Face masks will be mandatory and social distancing measures will be enforced during all ceremonies and religious rituals; it is prohibited to touch the Kaaba.
A security perimeter will be in place with additional checkpoints and patrols by security personnel surrounding the city and all holy sites. Restrictive zones have also been set up, including one to patrol and monitor Hajj violations. Individuals found to be violating measures, and any illegal commuters attempting to enter the city, will be subject to a fine or imprisonment.
Localized disruptions should be anticipated in Mecca, Medina, and the vicinity of all holy sites during the Hajj period, and an increased security presence should also be expected.
Individuals present in Saudi Arabia are advised to adhere to local cultural customs, allow for additional travel time, remain vigilant, avoid large gatherings, and obey all local regulations. Continue to follow official directives surrounding COVID-19 restrictions and measures at all times.
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