Riyadh: Starting from Sunday, Saudi authorities will impose a ban on entering holy sites without a permit as the Kingdom is bracing for a limited Haj season in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19, a local media report said on Saturday.
Security control centres in the holy city of Mecca will begin as of Sunday morning to stop entry into the holy sites of Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat without a permit, Gulf News quoted the Al Riyadh newspaper as saying in the report.
Violations are punishable by a fine of 10,000 Saudi riyals that will be doubled in case of repetition.
The measure is part of strict regulations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during the Haj set to begin later in July, said the newspaper report.
The Kingdom had announced that 70 of this year’s pilgrims will be expat residents while the remaining 30 per cent will be Saudis.
The maximum number of participating pilgrims has been set at 10,000.
The Saudi Ministry of the Hajj and Umrah has said that the health criteria will mainly determine the selection of those permitted to attend this year’s Haj.
More than 2 million Muslims usually perform the Haj every year.