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

FILE - In this March 7, 2020 file photo, workers disinfect the ground around the Kaaba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, over fears of the new coronavirus, the Muslim holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Guidelines were announced Monday, July 6, 2020 as Saudi Arabia gets ready for the 1,000 or so pilgrims that will be allowed to perform the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca later this month. The experience will be unlike any before which usually draws some 2.5 million people. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)
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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.