CAIRO (Reuters) — Saudi Arabia announced health protocols to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in the 2020 hajj season, banning gatherings and meetings between pilgrims, the state news agency said on Monday.
Saudi Arabia decided in June to limit the number of domestic pilgrims attending the hajj to around 1,000 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, after barring Muslims abroad from the rite for the first year in modern times.
Touching the Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam, will be banned during the hajj this year, and a social distancing space of a meter and a half between each pilgrim during the rituals including mass prayers and while in the Kaaba circling area will be imposed, a statement by the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) elaborated.
Also, access to holy hajj sites at Mona, Muzdalifah and Arafat will be limited to those with hajj permits starting Sunday July 19 till Aug. 2 2020, and wearing masks all the time will be mandatory for both pilgrims and organizers.
Reporting by Alaa Swilam; Editing by Kim Coghill
Image: Saudi security officers stand in front of the Kaaba, as muslims pray during the Laylat al-Qadr, or Night of Power, the holiest night for Muslims, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during the fasting month of Ramadan, at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia May 19, 2020. (Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS)