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Saudi authorities are severely restricting pilgrim numbers this year, as well as imposing health protocols such as social distancing, to ensure that the Haj can be performed safely amid the coronavirus pandemic. Image Credit:

Abu Dhabi: Sixteen people have been caught and fined SR10,000 ($2,666) each over the past week for violating a ban on entry into the holy sites without permits, according to the Saudi Public Security spokesman.

Haj pilgrims are obliged to self-quarantine before heading to the holy sites, the Saudi Press Agency reported, as part of new rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Saudi authorities are severely restricting pilgrim numbers this year, as well as imposing health protocols such as social distancing, to ensure that the Haj can be performed safely amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Interior Ministry has barred the entry of people to the holy sites of Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat without permits from Dul Qadah 28 (July 18) to Dul Hijjah 12.

The penalty will be doubled with the repetition of the violation.

Authorities called on all citizens and residents to abide by the instructions regarding Haj season this year.

Only those expatriates between the ages of 20 and 50 who are not suffering from any chronic diseases were entitled to apply for the pilgrimage.

Around 2.5 million foreign and domestic pilgrims had performed Haj last year.