Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 6 August 2020

HAJJ

Coronavirus: Hajj breaches risk a Dh10,000 fine, Saudi Arabia announces

Trespassing into the holy grounds of Makkah to perform the ritual could result in a heavy penalty

Workers disinfect the ground around the Kaaba in Makkah, March 7, 2020. AP
Workers disinfect the ground around the Kaaba in Makkah, March 7, 2020. AP

Authorities in Saudi Arabia said anyone caught contravening coronavirus restrictions on this year’s Hajj will be hit with a 10,000-riyal (Dh9,780) fine.

The penalty applies to those who attend Hajj, which is expected to begin on July 28, without a state-allocated permit.

An interior ministry official told Saudi Arabia’s official news agency that anyone apprehended without a permit at Mina, Muzdalifah or Arafat, the main Hajj stations, would be fined, and the amount would double for repeat offenders.

Security forces will seal off the areas and patrol the grounds to prevent “violations, monitor entry and mete punishment to all the violators”.

Last week, the government announced that only 1,000 people would be allowed to perform Hajj this year, as coronavirus cases in the kingdom continue to surge.

Attendance has been restricted to people already living in the kingdom and those present at Hajj will comprise 70 per cent residents and 30 per cent citizens, with healthcare employees given priority.

Under new Hajj measures unveiled this week, everyone from workers to worshippers will be required to wear masks.

Mass prayers will take place in compliance with social-distancing rules, and those suspected of being infected with the virus will be isolated but allowed to finish the ritual.

The latest official data on Sunday showed that 42 more people died of Covid-19 in Saudi Arabia, bringing tally of deaths to 2,223.

The official number of people who have been infected in Saudi Arabia stood at 232,259. Among them were 2,779 cases confirmed on Sunday.

Updated: July 26, 2020 12:48 PM

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