RIYADH — Saudi Arabia will enforce several strict health measures and protocols for the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage to prevent the deadly coronavirus disease from spreading, the Saudi Gazette reported on Tuesday.
Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Muhammad Saleh Benten and Minister of Health Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, Al-Rabiah addressed a joint virtual press conference at which they announced that the expected number of domestic pilgrims performing the Hajj this year will not exceed 10,000.
This is intended to enforce social-distancing requirements which may not be possible with a larger crowd.
The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and a must for financially stable able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime.
The annual pilgrimage has previously attracted close to 3 million pilgrims from around the world but owing the COVID-19 threat, the Saudi authorities will keep this year’s Hajj open to citizens and foreign nationals resident in the oil-rich kingdom.
“We have worked with the Ministry of Health to develop preventative and precautionary measures and protocols that are needed to ensure a safe Hajj season,” Benten said.
Dr. Al-Rabiah said those to be allowed to perform the pilgrimage should be less than 65 years of age and free from any chronic diseases.
He said that they have prepared an integrated hospital and a private health center for any emergencies during Hajj, adding that the health status of every pilgrim will be monitored daily.
Before being let into the Holy sites, the pilgrims will be tested and be asked to self-quarantine after they complete the Hajj rituals.