Anti-Coronavirus Measures for Haj Announced

Saudi Arabia’s Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has announced the anti-Coronavirus measures for the Haj pilgrimage in the Kingdom. The aim is to suppress Coronavirus infections and protect pilgrims. The Health Minister has previously announced the numbers of Pilgrims will be limited this year. From 19 July, the authorities will prohibit entry into Mina, Muzdalifa, and Arafat without permits. Multilingual guides and awareness signs will have to be placed in all areas. They will have to include Coronavirus infection warnings, hand washing protocols, sneezing and coughing etiquette and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers. Organisers will have to distribute pilgrims in the Tawaf area around the Kaaba to decrease overcrowding and ensure social distancing rules are complied with. This means 1.5 metres will have to be kept between people. Organisers at the Holy Mosque will have to ensure pilgrims are distributed on all floors of the Saee which is the ritual walking between Safa and Marwa. They will also have to place track lines to maintain social distancing and ensure the grounds around the Kaaba and Saee are sanitised by cleaning crews before and after each group performing Tawaf. Touching the Holy Kaaba and Black Stone will be prohibited and barriers will have to be erected to prevent access to the sites. The mosque’s carpets will also be removed to allow pilgrims to use their personal prayer rugs instead. Food will not be permitted in the mosque or on the mosque’s grounds. All personnel, guides, pilgrims and workers’ temperatures must be checked throughout the pilgrimage and face masks and gear must be worn at all times. Floor signs must be placed in areas like baggage claim areas, restaurants and bus stops with 1.5 metres between each floor sign. In terms of Arafat and Muzdalifa, pilgrims must comply with social distancing rules at all times and wear face masks. In addition, organisers must ensure 10 pilgrims are located in a tent of 50 square meters and 1.5 metres social distance should be between them. Pilgrims must follow designated tracks and organisers must exercise vigilance and ensure all pilgrims stay in line while complying with social distancing rules. Organisers must assemble 50 pilgrims heading to the Jamarat or stone pillars in each group and disinfected and packaged pebbles will be provided for pilgrims as well. Full story

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