In Pictures: Masks And Social Distancing At Downsized Hajj
Pilgrims travelling to Islam’s holiest site are expected to socially distance and wear face masks.
The event is larger than in 2020, but is still far smaller than usual years.
Only 60,000 fully vaccinated residents have been allowed to take part – with participants selected from an online pool of more than 550,00 applicants.
Pilgrims had to have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine and be aged between 18 and 65 without chronic illness to be eligible.
Some of those taking part were photographed waiting for official transportation to take them to Mecca’s Grand Mosque on Saturday.
Worshippers will then continue on with a five-day pilgrimage at other nearby holy sites.
The Hajj is usually one of the world’s largest religious gatherings – with an estimated 2.5 million people taking part in 2019.
Making the pilgrimage is one of the Five Pillars of Islam – considered an obligation for every Muslim to undertake at least once in their lives, if they are able to.
The Hajj ministry said this year’s event was being carried out with the highest levels of health precautions because of the pandemic.
“Every three hours, 6,000 people enter to perform the tawaf of arrival,” spokesman Hisham al-Saeed told AFP news agency. “After each group leaves, a sterilisation process is carried out at the sanctuary.”
Officials also said pilgrims were split up into escorted groups of 20 with pathways set out to keep people socially distanced.
It was estimated only about 10,000 Saudis took part in July 2020, with no major outbreaks reported.
All images subject to copyright.