JEDDAH: The Grand Mosque (Masjid-ul-Haram) in Makkah will remain closed to worshipers on Arafat Day and Eid-ul-Azha as part of the precautionary measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus pandemic.
“We have mainly focused on the health aspect this year for its extreme importance in the current unique situation. The remaining stages will be implemented in the coming days,” said Maj. General Mohammed Bin Wasl Al-Ahmadi, assistant commander of the Hajj security forces for the Grand Mosque.
“The suspension of prayers in the Grand Mosque and its outer premises will continue. We invite people of Makkah to break their fast on the Day of Arafat in their homes,” he said.
He made the remarks during a press briefing in which he announced the completion of the first stage of planning for the annual religious gathering. He said that the security plan for this year’s Hajj focuses on organisational, security, humanitarian and health aspects.
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“We have mainly focused on the health aspect this year due to the exceptional situation. The remaining stages will be implemented in the coming days,” he added.
He said that a new mechanism has been put in place to control pilgrims’ entry and exit to the Grand Mosque in order to ensure social distancing.
As part of the precautionary measures, there have been defined pathways established for the performance of walking rituals around the Kaaba and between the hills of Safa and Marwah, and entrance to the Grand Mosque area would only be allowed to those with official permission.
The command and control center in Makkah located in Mina and Muzdalifah will be fully operational. Entrances to Makkah city would be controlled by different security forces for 24 hours to prevent people without a permit gaining access.
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said that more than 80 years of experience in crowd and crisis management had been behind the Kingdom’s move to restrict the number of worshippers performing this year’s Hajj pilgrimage.