Hajj Season 1441 AH

Health Protocols for the Hajj season 1441AH

Safe environment, preventive measures, and social distancing

General controls for Hajj service providers:

  • Entry to the holy sites (Mona, Muzdalifah, Arafat) is prohibited without a permit, starting from the date of 11/28/1441AH until the end of the twelfth day of Dhu al-Hijjah 1441AH.
  • Situate a checkpoint at all entrances (housing entrance, bus gathering points, the Grand Mosque in Mecca “Al-Haram”, etc.) which includes measuring the temperature with a device approved by the SFDA and asking all pilgrims about the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, sudden loss of taste and smell, or a runny nose.
  • The cases suspected of having COVID-19, after being evaluated by the doctor, shall be allowed to complete their Hajj by joining the group of suspected cases. Also, a separate building, or at least residential floor, separate bus, and separate schedule for the Hajj route suitable for their situation shall be assigned.
  • The temperature must be measured and recorded daily for all those on the Hajj route to serve the pilgrims and all the workers.
  • Preventing any individual working on the Hajj route that has flu-like symptoms (heat, cough, runny nose, sore throat or sudden loss of smell and taste) from working until the symptoms disappear and obtaining a recovery report from the treating doctor.
  • Emphasizing on commitment to wearing masks for those in charge of the Hajj, pilgrims and all workers at all times and dispose of them in the proper manner and in the designated place.
  • Waiting for pilgrims at the assembly points, baggage delivery and receipt area, and restaurants should be organized by placing visible signs or stickers on the ground ensuring a distance of 1.5 meters between individuals.
  • Sharing personal tools and equipment between pilgrims (such as: protective equipment, communication devices, clothing, shaving products, or towels) is prohibited.
  • The number of people allowed to use the elevators should be set to ensure that the recommended social distancing space is maintained.
  • Use of signs to guarantee the distance of 1.5 meters between individuals in the escalators or the normal stairs.
  • It is necessary to adhere to regular environment disinfection on a scheduled basis, focusing on the places where contact is more likely, especially such as reception points, seating chairs, waiting areas, as well as door handles, dining tables, seat backs, etc. after each use.
  • All places and surfaces should be cleaned with soap and water before disinfecting them. For disinfection, follow the instructions in the Practical Guide for Cleaning and Disinfection of Public Facilities to Fight Covid-19 Infection issued by the SCDC.
  • Ensure that the bathrooms and toilets are cleaned periodically, after the ablution times with approved disinfectants.
  • A record of the times of cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and toilets should be maintained.
  • Hand sanitizers must be distributed and placed in prominent places, in gathering areas, corridors, and toilets.
  • Ensure good ventilation in all locations and spaces of pilgrims and workers.
  • Trash cans and waste baskets that are used with no touching required must be provided, and the waste must be disposed of continuously.
  • Hand sanitizers and instruction boards for hands disinfection must be placed near interactive devices such as inquiry screens, ATMs and vending machines.
  • Remove all printed copies and paper magazines.
  • Congregational prayers are permitted, with an emphasis on wearing a cloth mask during congregational prayers, keeping a distance between worshipers and referring to protocols for mosques.

Residential Buildings – Hajj Protocols:

  • All employees must wear masks while working, including reception stations and before entering guest rooms.
  • Pilgrims must wear masks when outside the rooms. 
  • It is necessary to adhere to regular environmental disinfection on a scheduled basis, with focus on places where contact is most likely, especially during the day. Such as the reception station and waiting areas, as well as door handles, dining tables, seat rests, elevator keys, etc. 
  • Bags and baggage carts must be disinfected periodically, and a designated worker must be assigned and trained on the disinfection process.

Please also refer to the tourist accommodation facilities guide issued by the SCDC.

Food places – Hajj Protocols:

  • Drinking water and Zamzam water in disposable packages that are made for individual use must be provided.
  • All refrigerators must be removed or disabled in the Grand Mosque “Al-Haram” and holy sites. 
  • Meals should be limited to pre-cooked and pre-packaged foods, to be served individually for each pilgrim. 
  • Alcohol-based hand sanitizers should be provided in any area designated for serving food in a prominent place that is easily accessible. 
  • Emphasis on workers to wash their hands routinely and repeatedly for 40 seconds at least every time during work shifts, by using either soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for a period of not less than 20 seconds in the event that soap and water are not available, especially at the following times: 
  • Before starting to prepare the food 
  • Before serving the food to the pilgrims
  • After using the bathroom 
  • After being in contact with potentially contaminated items (such as gloves, clothes, masks, and waste) 
  • Immediately after removing gloves or masks. 
  • Disposable single-use dishes, cups, and other eating utensils must be used when serving food. Also, all cooking tools must be cleaned well and carefully disinfected before re-use.
  • Cloth covers on tables may be used with an emphasis on changing and cleaning them after each use. However, it is preferable to replace them with tables that can be easily cleaned after each use. 
  • Personal protection equipment must be provided for all workers, such as cloth masks, or any cloth covering the nose and mouth, hairnets, and single-use body wear.
  • Workers working in high-risk departments such as cooking, food production, and beverage processing should wear personal protection equipment routinely and constantly change them. 
  • Paper tissues must be distributed and placed on all tables.
  • If food is served in places designated for catering, the social distancing protocol must be applied in the restaurant (between tables, receiving orders areas, and waiting areas). Ensuring a distance of 1.5 to 2 meters between individuals. 
  • Reducing the number of employees in the food preparation area and preventing overcrowding of workers. 
  • Organizing staff work in groups or teams in the form of shifts to reduce direct communication between groups.

Please also refer to the restaurants and cafes guide issued by the SCDC.

Buses – Hajj Protocols:

  • A bus must be assigned to each group and a seat number for the same pilgrim during the entire Hajj trip, and all pilgrims must adhere to the same seat during the trip. 
  • Pilgrims should not be allowed to stand on the bus during the trip.
  • Families shall be allowed to sit together, when possible.
  • Different doors for riding and disembarking the buses must be allocated, except for people with mobility difficulties who need help. 
  • The bus should be suspended until complete disinfection if a passenger on it was confirmed to have Covid-19, as per MOH directions.
  • Hand sanitizers and other hygiene cleaning products must be provided in each passenger compartment, with at least three disinfectants distributed and installed inside each compartment.
  • The number of passengers inside the bus must not exceed 50% of the total capacity of the bus, and physical spacing must be applied inside the bus by following the recommended policy and leaving an empty seat at least between each passenger.
  • It is preferable for passengers to carry their personal luggage and belongings while riding the bus. 
  • Drivers and all passengers must wear cloth masks or any cloth that covers the nose and mouth all the time on the bus.
  • Drivers must avoid contact with passengers.

Please also refer to the bus guide issued by the SCDC.

Barber shops – Hajj Protocols:

  • A face shield should be used when serving the pilgrim. if available.
  • Workers must wear gloves when serving the pilgrim, and the gloves must be changed after each pilgrim. 
  • Each pilgrim should be wrapped with a clean cap, and the single-use gowns that can be disposed of after each pilgrim should be used. 
  • Barbers should use disposable single-use protective neck straps and place them around the pilgrim’s neck when cutting hair.
  • The tools used after each pilgrim (gloves, razors, and capes .etc.) should be disposed of immediately in a closed container. 
  • The barber chairs, especially the armrest, must be cleaned and disinfected. Also. the shaving tools such as combs, brushes, and tool carts.

Please also refer to the barbershop guide issued by the SCDC.

Arafa and MuzdaLifah – Hajj Protocols:

  • Residency in the designated places must be adhered to and not deviate from the designated route by the organizer. 
  • Stress commitment to wearing masks at all times for pilgrims while performing the ritual.
  • The food served during the performance of these rituals must be limited to the pre-packaged only.
  • Gatherings and meetings must be prevented, and the recommended social distancing policy must be applied between pilgrims. 
  • The pilgrims shall be distributed among the tents so that they do not exceed 10 pilgrims per 50 square meters of the tent space, while maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 meters between each pilgrim and the other from all sides.
  • Prevent overcrowding in public bathrooms and ablution washbasins, by placing floor stickers or disrupting the use of a number of toilets or washbasins to ensure a safe distance of 1.5 meters between each person.

Throwing pebbles – Hajj Protocols:

  • Pilgrims must be provided with pre-sterilized gravel and placed or wrapped in sealed bags by the organizer.
  • Pilgrims visiting to the Jamarat facility must be on schedule, so that the number of pilgrims who throw stones at the same time does not exceed (50 pilgrims) for each floor of the Jamarat facility and with a distance of at least 1.5  to 2 meters between each individual and the other during the performance of the ritual.
  • Provide adequate number of masks and sanitizers for all pilgrims and workers on the route of throwing pebbles trip. 

Grand Mosque in Mecca – Hajj Protocols:

  • Pilgrims going to the Tawaf round the Ka’aba should be 1.5 meters between each person and the other, and congestion must be reduced and controlled by assigned organizers to make sure the worshipers are well organized.
  • Familiarize the pilgrims and distribute them on all quest floors while providing paths to ensure the recommended physical distance of at least 1.5 to 2 meters between each individual and the other
  • Personal communication between the pilgrims at the Grand Mosque should be minimized and gatherings in general must be prohibited. Commitment to social distancing should be emphasized with each person having a distance of at least 1.5 meters, and supervision of that must be applied by the security men
  • Prevent touching or kissing the honorable Ka’aba or the Black Stone and setting barriers. Supervisors must be assigned to prevent proximity to these barriers.
  • Specific entrances and exits must be allocated with organizers assigned to be at the doors, to ensure the continuity process of entry and exit of pilgrims and prevent crowding or any stampede. And to ensure that there are distances between them, provided that the organizers are from the security men.
  • Prevent crowding at Zamzarn drinking water coolers, and putting guide stickers on the floors to ensure social distancing, along with preventing pilgrims from using water storage devices and cans to store Zamzam water.
  • Prevent food entry to the Grand Mosque or eating in the outdoor arenas. 
  • Prevent overcrowding in public bathrooms and ablution washbasins by placing floor stickers or disrupting the use of a number of toilets or washbasins to ensure a safe distance of 1.5 meters between each person, with the necessity to assign supervisors.
  • Distribute hand sanitizers with small packages and tissue paper to the pilgrims.
  • The Tawaf and Sai areas must be cleaned periodically before and after each pilgrim tour
  • The rugs of the Great Mosque of Mecca must be removed and pilgrims must use their personal mats.
  • The used chairs and carts should be disinfected continuously after each use.
  • Periodical cleaning and disinfection of shoes area. 
  • Daily cleaning and disinfection of toilets, with care to ensure good ventilation and reduction of the bathrooms temperature.

Reporting and monitoring – Hajj Protocols:

  • The temperature must be measured and recorded daily for all those on the Hajj route to serve the pilgrims and all the workers.
  • A checkpoint must be situated at all entrances and  facilities which includes measuring the temperature with a device approved by the SFDA and asking all pilgrims about the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, sudden loss of taste and smell, or a runny nose.
  • All applications launched by the MOH (Tetamman, Tawakalna, and Tabaud) should be installed on all smart devices, and the location and bluetooth features must be activated on the devices and logged into the apps.
  • Medical care checkpoints or clinics that work 24hrs must be provided inside residential buildings. 
  • Medical intensive care teams, ambulances, and a mobile bus must be provided at the residential buildings. So that they accompany the pilgrims when they are going to perform all rituals. 
  • A separate room or area to isolate the suspected cases (those on the Hajj route, workers, and pilgrims) from others must be provided inside the residential buildings and all facilities, until communication with the competent authorities takes place and the necessary measures are taken.
  • Require all employees, pilgrims, and workers to disclose any respiratory symptoms or fever. 
  • Any condition that has high temperature or respiratory symptoms (coughing or shortness of breath) suspected of having Covid-19 must be reported with the specification data and case numbers to transfer the case to the hospital.

Communication and Awareness – Hajj Protocols:

  • Awareness posters must be displayed in all prominent entrances and places, written in different languages ​​and include the following:
  • How the virus spreads and the preventative measures to be taken.
  • Awareness of handwashing, avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth before washing hands, and encouraging attention to personal hygiene and health care.
  • Adherence to Hygiene and Cough etiquette (by using tissues and throwing them away immediately or coughing into the elbow and washing hands afterwards).
  • Spread awareness of using alcohol-based hand sanitizer bottles in a correct manner among the workers, employees, and pilgrims.

Implementation

  • Create a board containing a statement of the penalties and how to report it.
  • Establish communication channels to report any breach of requirements and report violations in order to work to avoid them, and an employee shall be responsible for them.
  • Train officials at checkpoints on the method of test performing and the use of a thermometer.
  • Assign a health observer to ensure the application of the requirements and guidelines and follow up on the health status of the pilgrims.
  • Conduct mandatory health and safety training on Covid-19 for all employees and those in charge of the Hajj route.

 

Appendix A: Individuals who are at Higher Risk of Infection

The health controls for suspending attendance at workplaces during the Covid-19 pandemic shall be attached to the medical reports of the below Health Conditions:

  • Those over the age of 65 years
  • Chronic lung disease, or severe asthma:

For those who have been admitted to the hospital at least once in the past six months.

  • Chronic heart diseases:

– Heart muscle failure.

– Coronary artery disease with at least having one heart attack during the past year.

  • Inherited Immunodeficiency diseases
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency:

1. Acquired immunodeficiency disease

2. Use of immunosuppressive drugs.

3. Use of cancer treatment drugs.

  • Obesity:

BMI 40>kg/m2

  • Chronic medical conditions:

4. Uncontrolled diabetes, which necessitated admission to the hospital at least once during the past six months

5. High blood pressure disease, which required admission to the hospital at least once during the past six months

6. Kidney failure (dialysis)

7. Cirrhosis.

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The wonderful integration between all government agencies throughout this crisis was lead by a distinguished leader who works tirelessly. He created a team that works with the highest measures of synchrony and quality, keeping the citizen their main priority.
Tawfiq Al Rabiah
Minister of Health

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