Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this year’s Haj pilgrimage will be limited to people from within the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia has restricted the annual Haj pilgrimage to its own citizens and residents for the second year running in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the state Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Saturday.
Only people aged between 18 and 65 who have been vaccinated or immunised from the virus, and are free of chronic diseases, will be able to take part, the ministry that manages the pilgrimage said in a statement carried by SPA.
It also set a maximum of 60,000 participants.
“The decision (was made) to guarantee the safety of haj amid uncertainty over the coronavirus,” the kingdom’s health minister Tawfiq Al Rabiah said in a televised press conference carried by SPA.
“Despite the availability of vaccine, there is uncertainty over the virus and some countries still record high numbers of Covid cases, the other challenge is the different variants of the virus, hence came the decision to restrict Haj,” Al Rabiah said.
Sources told Reuters in May a plan was being considered to bar overseas pilgrims from performing Haj.
Before the pandemic enforced social distancing globally, some 2.5 million pilgrims used to visit the holiest sites of Islam in Makkah and Madina for the week-long Haj, and the lesser, year-round Umrah pilgrimage.
Haj rules for 2021
>> Only 60,000 pilgrims (residents and citizens inside the Kingdom) will be allowed to perform Haj this year.
>> Those wishing to perform Haj should be free of chronic diseases.
>> Only people aged between 18 and 65 who have been vaccinated can perform Haj.
>> The immunization categories are: Fully vaccinated people, those who have taken one dose of the vaccination 14 days ahead, or those who have been vaccinated and are recovering from infection.