MAKKAH, July 25. 2020 – Pilgrims arrive in the holy city of Makkah July 25 in preparation for Hajj, which begins on July 28. The major Islamic pilgrimage will continue until August 2. This year marks an exception for the annual pilgrimage, with the Saudi authorities having to balance their responsibility as the host of the Muslim world’s biggest and most important religious gathering with the urgency to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. Also shown in the photos are items in a special bag kit containing a face mask, Hajj ihram cloth garment, a prayer rug, ritual stones, as well as personal hygiene items such as shaving instruments, personal care tools, a guidebook for the pilgrimage and other amenities. The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah – as part of its precautionary health measures – has provided each of the pilgrims with these kits.
As a precautionary measure, the pilgrims needed to undergo a weeklong home isolation (which ended on Saturday, July 25), before undergoing a mandatory quarantine for four days at designated hotels in the holy city before the start of the pilgrimage. This ought to be followed by another round of self-isolation post-pilgrimage. The Kingdom has also announced drastic curbs to numbers for pilgrims, allowing only citizens and residents – representing 160 nationalities – who meet certain criteria to perform Hajj, a religious journey which every Muslim should perform at least once in their lifetimes provided they are able physically and financially. Pilgrims who managed to get a spot were randomly selected through an automated system. Health standards of individuals were the primary determinant factor for selecting pilgrims this year, according to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah. Other criteria stipulated that individuals should be between the ages of 20 and 50, free of chronic diseases and should produce a PCR-test result to prove that they are free of the Coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has set up tents at Mount Arafat and made transport arrangements for pilgrims who will have to adhere to strict social-distancing norms. A group leader has been identified for each group of pilgrims, to make sure that the preventive measures and health messages are clearly communicated to them. This leader will facilitate communication with the pilgrims and inform them of developments first-hand.
As for the isolation procedures, the pilgrims must wear electronic bracelets to ensure that they are adhering to ‘domestic isolation’ procedures before they head to the holy places. They have to undergo the ‘institutional isolation’ from the 4th to the 8th of the Islamic month of Dhul Hijjah (Saturday July 25 to Tuesday July 28) in Makkah, according to Ministry of Hajj and Umrah officials.
*Ministry of Media