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

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Saudi Ministry of Media/Handout via Reuters

  • 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.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

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.

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

Pilgrims, some holding colored umbrellas, walk along matching colored rings that separate them in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on July 29, 2020.

STR/AFP via Getty Images

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

Muslim pilgrims maintain social distancing as they circle the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on July 29, 2020.

Saudi Ministry of Media/Handout via Reuters

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.

An aerial view shows tents of Muslim pilgrims in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on July 29, 2020.

Saudi Ministry of Media/Handout via Reuters

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.

Muslim pilgrims walk at the Grand Mosque during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on July 29, 2020.

Saudi Ministry of Media/Handout via Reuters

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.

Pilgrims circle the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 2018 (left) compared to 2020.

Getty Images

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.

Muslim pilgrims maintain social distancing as they circle the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on July 29, 2020.

Saudi Ministry of Media/Handout via Reuters

Source: Sky News

Pilgrims also had to wear face masks...

A Muslim pilgrim wearing protective face masks prays at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on July 29, 2020.

Saudi Ministry of Media/Handout via Reuters

Source: Al Jazeera

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

A general view shows Muslim pilgrims wearing protective masks and maintaining social distancing as they pray inside Namira Mosque in Arafat to mark Haj's most important day, Day of Arafat, July 30, 2020.

Saudi Ministry of Media/Handout via REUTERS

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.

Muslim pilgrims maintain social distancing as they circle the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on July 29, 2020.

Saudi Ministry of Media/Handout via Reuters

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.

A Muslim pilgrim wearing a protective face mask has his temperature checked as he arrives in Mina, Saudi Arabia, on July 29, 2020.

Saudi Press Agency/Handout via Reuters

Source: Al Jazeera

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

Health workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) disinfect the floor as Muslim pilgrims pray inside Namira Mosque in Arafat to mark Haj's most important day, Day of Arafat, on July 30, 2020.

Saudi Ministry of Media/Handout via REUTERS

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.

Muslim pilgrims receive food as they sit in a tent on the plains of Arafat during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, on July 30, 2020.

Saudi Ministry of Media/Handout via REUTERS

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.

A pilgrim receives water at the Grand Mosque complex in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on July 29, 2020.

STR/AFP via Getty Images

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."

Muslim pilgrims wear protective face masks, as they pray on Mount Mercy on the plains of Arafat during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, on July 30, 2020.

Saudi Ministry of Media/Handout via REUTERS

Source: Al Jazeera

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