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Hujjaj begin hajj amid COVID-19 measures

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Amid strict coronavirus pandemic protocols, Hajj pilgrims have begun their lifetime spiritual journey by converging on the tent city of Mina since this morning.

To mark the beginning of the annual pilgrimage, the pilgrims performed Tawaf Al-Qudum (tawaf of arrival) and the ritual of sai at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on Wednesday morning and then headed to Mina, located 7 km northeast of the Grand Mosque.

Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Abdel Fattah Mashat announced the success of completing the rituals of tawaf and sai as pilgrims followed social distancing and other precautionary measures approved by the Ministry of Health and implemented by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and other security and service sectors in the wake of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

The pilgrims arrived in Makkah after spending a week in institutional quarantine to perform the pilgrimage. A health leader has been assigned to each group of 50 pilgrims to ensure safety measures, including wearing a mask and social distancing, are implemented at all times.

Following the noble tradition of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the pilgrims will spend the day and night on Wednesday, which is known as the Tarwiyah Day, in Mina. On the first day of Hajj rituals, they will engage in supplications and make final preparations for the Standing (wuqoof) at Arafat, the most important pillar of Haj, marking the climax of the annual pilgrimage on Thursday.

Mashat said that the approved health criteria are strictly being enforced for the pilgrims in their places of accommodation and buses.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah provided housing for pilgrims in the residential towers in Mina after taking precautions and preventive measures. He said pre-prepared meals will be provided to pilgrims for which one of the reputable companies has been assigned to distribute them among all pilgrims in their accommodation, buses, and waiting areas.

He said, in coordination with the Ministry of Health and the security authorities, the pilgrims will be transported from Mina to the Namira Mosque in Arafat on Thursday, to listen to the sermon of Arafat and the performance of the prayers of Dhuhr and Asr combined and in a shortened form, and then they will perform the main ritual of wuqoof in their tents.

Meanwhile, the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has completed the installation and equipping of dedicated paths at the Grand Mosque, especially in mataf (circumambulation area around the Holy Kaaba) and mas’a (area for the ritual of sai between Safa and Marwah), for each group of pilgrims in a way maintaining all the regulations stipulated in the coronavirus preventive protocols for the annual pilgrimage of Hajj.

The presidency has put the finishing touches to all its preparations to receive the guests of God, adopting precautionary and preventive measures to ensure the health and safety of pilgrims as well as to enable them to perform their rituals in ease and comfort.

The presidency also worked, in coordination and cooperation with the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and the security authorities to install and equip paths dedicated to the groups of pilgrims in order to ensure social distancing between pilgrims, in addition to allocating specific doors for each group for their entry and exit from the mosque so as ensure the smooth flow of pilgrims and avoid any crowding.

The presidency raised the production capacity of Zamzam water bottles that are being distributed among the Hajj pilgrims. All the pilgrims will be supplied with sealed and sterilized bottles of the holy water for single use and the refrigerated containers and coolers of Zamzam at the mosque will not be allowed to use by them.

All the concerned authorities and agencies are well equipped and mobilized to make available of all the services for the pilgrims in order to ensure their health and safety following all the preventive and precautionary measures.

Saudi Gazette

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