The 2020 Hajj pilgrimage with only just 1,000 pilgrims due to the COVID-19 pandemic will begin on Wednesday for the first time in modern history.
Up to 1,000 people residing in the kingdom will participate in the Holy ritual after what many saw as an opaque selection process that left a wave of applicants rejected.
The foreigners are barred from this year’s Hajj, usually a huge global media event, as the government tightens access to the holy city of Mecca and puts in place strict health restrictions to prevent a virus outbreak during the five-day pilgrimage.
Saudi Arabia has recorded more than 260,000 cases of the novel coronavirus. While the total infections reached 16 million from around the globe.
According to authorities, Mask-clad pilgrims began trickling into Makkah over the weekend and were subject to temperature checks and placed in quarantine.
They were given elaborate amenity kits that include sterilized pebbles for a stoning ritual, disinfectants, masks, a prayer rug and the ihram, according to a Hajj ministry programme document.
Pilgrims are required to be tested for coronavirus before arriving in Makkah and will also have to quarantine after the pilgrimage.
The ministry said it has set up multiple health facilities, mobile clinics and ambulances to cater to the pilgrims, who will be required to observe social distancing.