Hajj: 16 pilgrims fined for illegal entry into holy sites

About 1,000 people are allowed to perform Hajj this year with steep fines announced for those breaking the law

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Sixteen people have been fined for entering the restricted holy sites in Makkah, the Saudi Public Security body has announced.

The perpetrators were fined SR10,000 each over the past week for trespassing but authorities did not disclose which sites they had entered. Saudi Arabia has limited the number of pilgrims allowed to perform Hajj this year because of the coronavirus crisis.

The government has given preference to medical and security professionals for this year's Hajj in recognition of their service to the kingdom’s people during the coronavirus crisis.

People from vulnerable age or health groups have been kept out.

“Health determinants are the basis for selecting pilgrims residing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and there will be no exceptions to anyone during this year’s Hajj season,” said Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Mohammed Salih Bentin.

The threat, while receding, has not disappeared. The country logged 1968 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 266,941 with 2,733 deaths.

Special measures have been taken to ensure Hajj participants, of whom 30 per cent are Saudi and 70 per cent are foreigners living in the kingdom, are kept safe throughout the 10 day pilgrimage.

All those taking part have been required to undertake a quarantine period and once on the trail, staff will be on hand to ensure pilgrims wear masks and maintain social distancing protocol.

Medical teams and ambulances will shadow the pilgrims, ready to assist anyone how falls ill and take them for care in Mina Al Wadi Hospital, one of the 29 health centres in Arafat, a field hospital, or a mobile clinic.

The General Presidency for the affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque said it had prepared sterile bottles of Zamzam blessed water for each pilgrim. Water coolers and fountains will be banned.