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Saudi Arabia Bans Entry to Holy Sites without Hajj Permit

With less than two weeks to hajj, the holy sites in Makkah and Madinah are gearing up to welcome worshippers for the annual pilgrimage amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

In order to protect pilgrims, Saudi Interior Ministry has announced that anyone who tries to enter Makkah’s Grand Mosque, the area around it and the holy Hajj sites without a permit would be fined SR10,000 ($2,666), Arab News reported.

The ban would be in place from Monday till the end of the annual pilgrimage.

“Heightened security measures and strict COVID-19-related restrictions will be implemented to prevent entry to holy sites without a permit from July 5 to 23, 13 days before the annual pilgrimage, which is expected to begin on July 17,” the SPA quoted the ministry of interior.

Holy sites include Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat, and the fine will be doubled if the offense is carried out twice.

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Security personnel will patrol all roads, security check posts and corridors leading to the central area around the Grand Mosque to prevent any attempts that breach these regulations.

“Security personnel will perform their duties on all roads, security checkpoints, as well as at locations and corridors leading to the Grand Mosque to prevent attempts to break the rules,” SPA added.

According to the Islamic Calendar, hajj begins on the 8th day of Dhul-Hijjah and ends on the thirteenth day.

Last month, Saudi authorities announced hajj restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kingdom said no foreign pilgrims would be allowed to perform Hajj this year, setting a maximum of 60,000 pilgrims.

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Hajj ceremonies symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith. It commemorates the trials of Prophet Abraham and his family.

Every able-bodied adult Muslim who can financially afford the trip must perform Hajj at least once in a lifetime.

Before the pandemic, Makkah used to see millions of Muslims from around the world pouring in to perform Hajj.