Mask-wearing Muslim pilgrims began a downsized annual hajj, Wednesday, July 29, as Saudi Arabia hopes to avoid a coronavirus outbreak during the five-day pilgrimage.
READ MORE: Islam’s holiest observances began Wednesday as a small group of pilgrims arrived in Mecca to begin the hajj, which has been dramatically scaled-back due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead of the two million-plus people from around the globe that normally make the required once-in-a-lifetime journey to Islam’s holiest site, Saudi Arabia has barred all international travelers from entering the kingdom to perform the hajj, limiting the attendees to just 1,000 people made up of Saudi nationals and foreign residents who were pre-selected weeks ago.
The pilgrims are between the ages of 20 and 50 and have been tested for COVID-19 before traveling to Mecca, where they were required to quarantine in their hotel rooms before the start of the hajj. They will also be required to enter quarantine for a week after the end of their five-day pilgrimage.