Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia says pilgrims begin 7-day home isolation prior to Hajj

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Muslim pilgrims who will partake in this year’s limited Hajj amid the coronavirus pandemic have started home isolation, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said on Sunday.

“According to the health protocol approved for Hajj, pilgrims who met the health requirements and conditions for this year’s Hajj began today the 7-day home isolation procedures,” the ministry said on Twitter.

Saudi Arabia had announced on June 22 that it will allow a “limited” number of people to perform Hajj this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that those individuals will be of different nationalities but already residing in the Kingdom.

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetime. Approximately, 2.5 million pilgrims typically visit the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina for the week-long Hajj.

The security forces of Hajj said on Sunday that Holy sites will be encompassed by a comprehensive security cordon to prevent anyone without a permit from entering, according to state news agency SPA.

The security officials also reiterated that anyone who does not adhere to the instructions will be fined 10,000 riyals ($2,667) which will be doubled if the violation is repeated.

As for those who illegally transport pilgrims who have not been approved to perform Hajj this year, the security officials highlighted that there are several tiers to their penalties.

For the first offence, he will be jailed 15 days and fined up to 10,000 riyals ($2,667) for each unauthorized pilgrim he transported. If he is an expat, he will be deported after finishing his sentence and banned from re-entering the Kingdom. His vehicle will also be seized.

If the violator repeats the offence for a second time, he will be jailed for two months and fined no more than 25,000 riyals ($6,666) for each unauthorized pilgrim he transported. If he is an expat, he will be deported after finishing his sentence and banned from re-entering the Kingdom.

If the violator repeats the offence for the third time, he will be jailed for a period no longer than six months and fined no more than 50,000 riyals ($13,331) for each unauthorized pilgrim he transported. If he is an expat, he will be deported after finishing his sentence and banned from re-entering the Kingdom.

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