Saudi authorities have announced that the hajj will start on July 29, culminating in the Day of Arafat the next day and Eid al Adha on July 31.
The announcement came after the crescent moon was not sighted in Saudi Arabia on Monday (July 20) and so the month of Zulhijja will start on Wednesday (July 22) to complete thirty days of Zulqaeda, state news agency SPA reported citing the Kingdom’s Supreme Court.
The Day of Arafat, the second day of the hajj, must coincide with the ninth day of Zulhijja. It is followed by the first day of Eid al Adha.
This year’s hajj amid the pandemic will go on with some 1,000 pilgrims who already reside in Saudi Arabia as the Kingdom keeps its international borders closed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
70% of pilgrims are non-Saudi residents, with Saudis making up the remaining 30%.
On July 6 authorities announced health and safety protocols for this year’s hajj, including that pilgrims must wear cloth masks during congregational prayers, and distance must be kept between worshippers.
Pilgrims selected for this year’s hajj started their seven-day home isolation on Monday. They will have to confine themselves to their homes again after they complete the pilgrimage.
Last year, 2,489,406 pilgrims performed the hajj, around 75% of whom came from abroad.
Saudi Arabia is still reporting thousands of new COVID-19 cases daily. It announced 2,429 new confirmed cases on Monday, taking the country’s total tally to 253,349. There have been 2,523 fatalities.
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