RIYADH

Saudi Arabia on Monday announced a health protocol for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage, which the authorities have curtailed due to the spread of coronavirus.

Under the protocol, wearing face masks will be mandatory for pilgrims during the ritual and entry to holy sites will not be allowed without a permit, according to the official SPA news agency.

The protocol announced by the Center for Disease Prevention and Control also stipulates that pilgrims must maintain social distancing rules during prayers and ritual and avoid congregations at the sites.

Pilgrims will not be allowed to touch the Kaaba this year under the new measures.

Last month, Saudi authorities announced that less than 10,000 Muslim worshippers will be allowed to perform the Hajj pilgrimage this year due to the pandemic.

Last year, around 2.4 million pilgrims performed Hajj, according to official estimates.

Saudi Arabia has so far recorded 206,509 cases of infection and 1,916 deaths.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

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