New guidelines for Haj released by Saudi Government

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Haj Site
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Saudi Arabia’s National Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has revealed several health protocols for the Haj 2020 season which mandates social distancing and minimum interaction with pilgrims. General guidelines for health workers and practitioners regarding the current Haj season have also been released. 

GCC Business News had reported earlier that the Kingdom’s Ministry of Haj and Umrah had decided to have a limited Haj this year by allowing only 10,000 Saudi residents who are in the country to carry out the pilgrimage.

The new regulations will cover the use of residential buildings, food places, buses, and men’s barbershops, along with matters regard to Arafa and Muzdalifah, throwing stones (Jamarat), and prayers at the Grand Mosque of Mecca.

General Guidelines

  • Entry will be regulated with a permit to holy sites The broad guidelines also include an entry ban to the holy sites (Mina, Muzdalifah, Arafat) starting from July 19, until August 2.
  • Pilgrims have also been advised not to share personal tools and equipment such as protective equipment, communication devices, clothing, shaving products or towels during the pilgrimage.
  • The use of elevators will be also be regulated to maintain social distancing norms.
  • All pilgrims are mandated pilgrims must wear face masks, keep a safe distance and adhere to all protocols for mosques during their group prayers.

Stay – Residential Buildings

  • All staff must wear face masks while working, at reception stations and before entering guest rooms.
  • Guests must wear face masks when outside their rooms.
  • Regular disinfection must be carried out regularly to high-contact regions such as reception stations, waiting-areas along with  handles, dining tables, seat rests and elevator keys

Dining

  • Drinking-water and ZamZam water will be distributed in a single-use container.
  • All refrigerators at the Mecca holy site will be removed or turned off.
  • Food provided will be pre-packed and pre-cooked to ensure minimal contact.
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers will have to be placed in the dining area.
  • Workers will have to ensure that they wash their hands regularly with soap or hand sanitizer as per the WHO recommendations.
  • Workers will have to operate in groups to ensure minimal contact with other sets of workers.

Transportation 

  • Each pilgrim will be allocated an individual seat for himself for the entire pilgrimage which should not be used by anyone else.
  • No pilgrim will be allowed to stand on the bus during travel.
  • Families could be grouped together if possible based on conditions.
  • Separate doors will be used for entry and exit from the vehicle with exceptions to people with physical difficulties.
  • In case of a positive COVID  confirmation, the travel can only be continued after the complete disinfection of the vehicle.
  • All vehicles utilized for transporting pilgrims should only be occupied at a maximum of 50% capacity.

Arafa and Muzdalifah

  • Pilgrims will have to stay in a designated path to carry out the Haj Rituals.
  • All are mandated to wear facial masks when the holy rituals are carried out
  • Pre-packed food will be provided to the pilgrims.

Jamarat – Pebble-throwing ritual

  • Pre-sterilized stones will be provided to pilgrims for the stone-throwing ritual.
  • A maximum number of 50 pilgrims will be allowed to carry out the ritual at a time.

Grand Mosque in Mecca

  • ’Tawaf”, circling the cube-shaped Kaaba should be carried out according to social distancing norms.
  • Pilgrims are banned from touching or kissing the black stone in Kaaba with barriers placed to restrict any such activity.
  • Separate entry and exit will be used at the Grand Mosque to ensure limited chances of interaction among pilgrims.


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