Saudi authorities warn hujjaj to respect public health rules or face consequences

Hajj during the time of COVID-19. Editorial credit: Leo Morgan

A few days ahead of the Hajj season, the Saudi authorities have warned that violations will be dealt with appropriately, especially regarding health preventive measures.

Arab News reports that at a press conference in Makkah on Tuesday, the Commander of Hajj Security Forces, Zayed bin Abdulrahman Al-Tuwayan, said: “The security of our country in general is a red line, and the safety of pilgrims is of the same level of importance. However, with what the whole world is witnessing due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, it was decided to limit the numbers of pilgrims to preserve their health and safety.”

A month ago Saudi Arabia said it would limit registration for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage to citizens and residents of the Kingdom in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The Ministries of Health and Hajj announced that a total of 60,000 pilgrims would be allowed to perform the pilgrimage this year.

It was stressed that those wishing to perform Hajj must be free of any chronic diseases and to be within the ages from 18 to 65 years for those vaccinated against the virus, according to the Kingdom’s vaccination measures.

Al-Tuwayan reaffirmed that no one would be allowed to enter the Grand Mosque area or the holy sites unless they have an official Hajj permit from the Hajj and Umrah Ministry. He noted that penalties will be immediately imposed on anyone who violates the procedures “whether they are Saudi nationals or residents.”

The same treatment will apply against those who may be caught trying to illegally enter the Grand Mosque or the holy sites.

Meanwhile, spokesman for the Hajj Security Forces Command, Sami Al-Shuwairekh, said that 10 people have been arrested for violating the Hajj regulations and instructions, as they did not have a valid permit.

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He said legal measures have been taken against them and they have each been fined SR10,000 ($2,666).

Al-Shuwairekh called on all citizens and residents to abide by the instructions for this year’s pilgrimage season, adding that security forces will take legal measures against anyone who tries to reach the Grand Mosque, its central surrounding area and the holy sites (Mina, Muzdalifah, and Arafat) without a permit until July 23.

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