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Saudi Arabia makes masks mandatory, bans gatherings during Hajj

Muslim pilgrims at this year’s Hajj must wear face masks at all times, authorities said, while workers will ensure no overcrowding or gatherings take place during the pilgrimage that in normal times brings together more than 2 million people.
The kingdom has drastically curtailed the pilgrimage this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying that only the few thousands who already live inside Saudi Arabia could perform the Hajj, which will begin late July.
Saudi Arabia’s Center for Disease Prevention and Control (SaudiCDC) released a list of instructions for pilgrims and workers to follow.
A space of one-and-a-half metres between each pilgrim must be observed during prayers or other rituals, at restaurants or inside tents, according to the list published by official news agency SPA.
People will not be allowed to touch the Kaaba, the cube-shaped, black-clad shrine at Mecca’s Grand Mosque. Pilgrims usually walk around the Kabaa several times during the Hajj.
Pilgrims are banned from sharing personal items such as clothes, phones and towels.
Buses transporting pilgrims from one holy site to another must be occupied at 50-percent capacity, as each pilgrim will be assigned the same seat throughout the Hajj.
At restaurants, only pre-packaged meals will be available as well as single-use bottles filled with water from the holy Zamzam well.
Saudi Arabia banned pilgrims from outside the kingdom in a bid to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The kingdom has the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Arab world, with more than 200,000 infections.