According to state-run media, Saudi Arabia will limit the number of people taking part in this year’s Hajj due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What We Know:
- The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced that only people residing within the kingdom could make pilgrimage. Saudi Arabia will bar all foreign pilgrims. These restrictions are an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.
- Saudi Arabia has over 161,000 cases of the illness and more than 1,300 people have died. The government lifted the nationwide lockdown this past weekend, but international travel is still prohibited.
- The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah made a statement saying “This decision is taken to ensure Hajj is safely performed while committing to all preventive measures to protect Muslims and adhere strictly to the teachings of Islam in preserving our health and safety”. Hajj Minister Muhammad Benten said “The number, God willing, may be in the thousands. We are in the process of reviewing so it could be 1,000 or less, or a little more”.
- Additional restrictions include no pilgrims over the age of 65 and everyone involved must quarantine before and after the pilgrimage. Indonesia, Malaysia, Senegal, and Singapore have all said that their nationals will not take part in this year’s Hajj.
- Last year, over 2 million Muslims performed Hajj, and of those, more than 1.8 million traveled to Saudi Arabia from abroad. Performing hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. All able-bodied Muslims must make the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. It is one of the largest religious gatherings in the world.
The Hajj will take place at the end of July, two months and ten days after the end of Ramadan. The government suspended the Umrah pilgrimage in late February, which can take place at any time of the year.