Starting in Saudi Arabia, the Hajj was held this year in a very unusual conditions for a global pandemic coronavirus. This also applies to introduced special security measures against COVID-19, and greatly reduced the number of pilgrims.

Saudi Authorities said that would allow about 1000 pilgrims participate in the Hajj, which typically draws more than two million Muslims from around the world.

in spring of Riyadh urged Muslims to postpone this year’s plans for Hajj because of the situation with the spread COVID-19.

the other day during a virtual press conference, the Saudi Minister for Hajj Affairs Mohammad Benten said that the government is in the process of reviewing the total number of eligible pilgrims, saying that they could be “about 1000, maybe less, maybe a little more.”

In any case, the Minister added, the number of pilgrims this year will not be counted in tens or hundreds of thousands.

health Minister Tawfiq al-rabiah said that anyone over the age of 65 or people with chronic diseases will not be allowed to perform the Hajj.

Although this year “limited” as it is called in Riyadh, the Hajj will be presented to participants from 160 countries, and were selected from among people already living in the Kingdom, reports Al Jazeera. Accordingly, pilgrims from abroad this year at the Hajj in Saudi Arabia was not expected.

the Pilgrims were faced with the need to be tested for the presence of coronavirus and spend the quarantine at home before they can go to Mecca.

Once in Mecca, the Hajj, the participants should again pass the test and get GPS bracelets to track contacts. Of course, implied the need to carry and pilgrims, and organizers of face masks. Kissing a Muslim Shrine, the Kaaba, and even to touch her is forbidden. All pilgrims should also maintain a physical distance of 1.5 meters during the prayer. Used in the context of the ritual of “breaking the devil” the stones are treated with antiseptics.

These precautionary measures does not appear excessive: currently in Saudi Arabia, a growing number of cases of coronavirus. According to the latest data, the country recorded more than 268 thousand cases of infection and deaths from 2760 COVID-19.

it is Expected that the reduction of the Hajj will exacerbate the economic slowdown in the Kingdom. It is estimated that in normal times, the pilgrimage annually adds $ 12 billion to the country’s GDP. The IMF expects that in 2020, the GDP of the Kingdom will be reduced by 6.8% due to the impact of the pandemic and the fall of oil prices.

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Jennifer Alvarez is an investigative journalist and is a correspondent for European Union. She is based in Zurich in Switzerland and her field of work include covering human rights violations which take place in the various countries in and outside Europe. She also reports about the political situation in European Union. She has worked with some reputed companies in Europe and is currently contributing to USA News as a freelance journalist. As someone who has a Masters’ degree in Human Rights she also delivers lectures on Intercultural Management to students of Human Rights. She is also an authority on the Arab world politics and their diversity.