Pilgrims have arrived at the Grand Mosque in Makkah to perform tawaf in the first Hajj act of the year after reaching the city on Saturday through four entry points designed to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Saudi Arabia, which receives almost 2.5 million pilgrims each year, has limited the number of travelers permitted to perform Hajj for the second year in a row to 60,000, as health and safety is a top priority for officials amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The pilgrims permitted to perform Hajj comprise of different nationalities residing in the Kingdom and must be fully vaccinated against coronavirus, reports Arab News.
According to this year’s Hajj organizing plan, pilgrims are gathering in four main entry locations: Al-Taneem, Al-Shara’i, the Kor checkpoint and the Al-Shumaisi security zone.
Pilgrims residing in Makkah were also directed to head to the nearest point to join up with arrivals.Security and health checks were followed by bus transfers to take pilgrim groups to the Grand Mosque, where they performed tawaf upon arrival.
Once completed, pilgrims left the Grand Mosque through the Bab Ali grouping station, where buses transported them to temporary residences near the holy sites.
With a temperature of 41 degrees Celsius in Makkah, most pilgrims were seen carrying umbrellas to protect themselves from the scorching summer heat.
Security personnel and civil workers were monitoring the movement of the pilgrims, ensuring that all health instructions were followed and to provide immediate help.
Hisham Saeed, spokesman of the Hajj and Umrah ministry, said that 6,000 pilgrims every three hours are expected to enter the Grand Mosque to perform tawaf. After each group leaves, a sterilization process will be carried out to ensure maximum safety.