Saudi Arabia boosts Mecca security, COVID-19 protocols ahead of Hajj


Saudi Arabia has boosted its security measures in Mecca days before the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Checkpoints have been set up outside the city to make sure only pilgrims carrying the appropriate permits are allowed to pass.

Security personnel will patrol all roads leading to the central area around the Grand Mosque and the holy site of Kaaba to ensure people follow the rules.

More police officers have been deployed at the 911 emergency centre to help handle the expected increase in calls.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, only 60,000 pilgrims, all residents of Saudi Arabia, will be allowed to take part in Hajj.

A smart card will be used by all pilgrims and workers to give them access to services, camps, hotels and means of transport.

It is the second year that the pandemic has cast a shadow on the Muslim pilgrimage.

The kingdom ran an incredibly pared-down Hajj last year, allowing a small number of faithful to take part.

Normally up to two million pilgrims would perform the rites of the Hajj, a physically demanding and often costly pilgrimage that draws the faithful from around the world.

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