Photo: Pilgrims touching the Kaaba in Masjid al Haram on May 3, 2018. Andrew V Marcus/Shutterstock

Islamic Lifestyle

No touching the kaaba: Saudi authorities announce health protocols for limited hajj

Saudi Arabian authorities have announced protocols for pilgrims participating in this year’s limited hajj.

Authorities on Jun 22 said the hajj will go on this year but with a “limited number of pilgrims from various nationalities who already reside in Saudi Arabia”. The Saudi ministry of hajj and umrah said the decision is based in light of the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the risk of its spread in crowded spaces and large gatherings.

The Saudi Center for Disease Prevention and Control on Monday (Jul 6) released controls for service providers, residential buildings, food places, buses, men’s barber shops, Arafa and Muzdalifah, and Makkah’s Masjid al Haram.

The guidelines include:

  • Entrance into Mina, Muzdalifah, and Arafat are not allowed without a permit Jul 19 to Aug 2
  • Suspected cases of COVID-19 are allowed to complete the hajj, after evaluation by specialist doctors, and they must be attached to a group of other suspected cases. Their residence and transports are separated.
  • Guidelines are allotted for workers stressing wearing masks, explaining logistics for pilgrims to keep social distancing, and procedures for sanitization.
  • Pilgrims must wear cloth masks during congregational prayers, and distance must be kept within worshipers.
  • In Masjid al Haram, touching or kissing the Kaaba or the hajar al aswad, the black stone, are not allowed.

Around 2.5 million pilgrims from abroad and inside Saudi Arabia performed the hajj last year. Saudi authorities have not announced how many plgrims it will allow for this year’s pilgrimage.

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