14 photos of the low key Hajj: Only 10,000 Muslim pilgrims in face masks made it to Mecca this year.

pilgrim mecca hajj

  • Less than 1% the usual number of Muslims performed their annual pilgrimage to Mecca this week amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

  • Pilgrims had to apply through an online portal and verify they didn't have any coronavirus symptoms or terminal illnesses before going.

  • Attendance was limited to only 10,000 people who were already residing in Saudi Arabia, compared to the usual 2.5 million visitors that Mecca sees every year.

  • Scroll down to see photos of mask-wearing and social-distancing pilgrims attend the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims.

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A few thousand Muslims gathered in Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic — but under strict health restrictions.

While Mecca — the holiest city for Muslims — usually sees around 2.5 million pilgrims from all over the world during this time, attendance this year was limited to only 10,000 people already residing in Saudi Arabia.

Muslims are obliged to undertake the Hajj at least once if they are financially and physically able to.

Scroll down to see how photos of pilgrims wearing face masks and social distancing during a dramatically scaled-down Hajj pilgrimage this week.

SEE ALSO: 16 dramatic aerial photos show 2 million Muslims taking part in the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca

Thousands of Muslims performed their annual pilgrimage to Mecca, called Hajj, this week, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

But this year, the five-day pilgrimage — which every able-bodied Muslim must perform at least once in their lifetime — happened a little differently.

For the first time in its history, Saudi Arabia barred Muslims from entering the kingdom from abroad to perform the Hajj. Instead, attendance was limited to only 10,000 people who were already living in the kingdom.

Source: Sky News

Of the 10,000 Saudi residents that were allowed to attend, 30% were healthcare workers who have recovered from the virus and were picked to go as a gesture of appreciation.

Source: Reuters

This compares to the 2.5 million visitors who attend (mostly from abroad) every year. Here is a before-and-after image that shows just how different this year's pilgrimage looked.

Source: Reuters

The pilgrims had to apply through an online portal to prove they have no terminal illness and were not showing any symptoms of the coronavirus. Preference was given to those who had not done the Hajj before.

Source: Sky News

Pilgrims also had to wear face masks...

Source: Al Jazeera

...and had to practice social distancing at all times.

Colored rings that acted as social distancing markers were placed on the floor of the Grand Mosque — the focal point of Mecca. This is where Muslim pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba, a cubic building at the center of the mosque, at the beginning and end of the pilgrimage.

Every visitor was also subject to regular temperature checks and had to go into a short quarantine before the pilgrimage started on Wednesday. They also had to take a coronavirus test and were given electronic wristbands to allow authorities to track them.

Source: Al Jazeera

State media also showed pictures of workers in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) disinfecting public areas.

Source: Al Jazeera

In past years, it was common to see people sitting together for meals, however, this time pilgrims had to eat pre-packaged meals while social-distancing.

Source: Sky News

Every visitor was also were given amenity kits that included disinfectants, masks, sterilized pebbles for a stoning ritual, and their own prayer rug.

Source: Al Jazeera

One pilgrim told Al Jazeera: "I did not expect, among millions of Muslims, to be blessed with approval. It is an indescribable feeling... especially since it is my first pilgrimage."

Source: Al Jazeera