Saudi Arabia to Hold 'Very Limited' Hajj Due to Coronavirus

Only people of various nationalities already residing in the country would be allowed to perform the hajj

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Worshippers perform Isha prayer while keeping distance between them next to the Kaaba in Mecca's Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest site, on April 27, 2020.
Worshippers perform Isha prayer while keeping distance between them next to the Kaaba in Mecca's Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest site, on April 27, 2020.Credit: AFP

Saudi Arabia said Monday that this year’s hajj will not be canceled, but that due to the coronavirus only “very limited numbers” of people will be allowed to perform the major Muslim pilgrimage.

The kingdom said that only people of various nationalities already residing in the country would be allowed to perform the hajj.

“In light of continuation of the pandemic and the risks of coronavirus spreading in crowded spaces and large gatherings, its transmission between countries, and the increase in average infections globally, it has been decided that Hajj for this year (1441 H/ 2020AD) will be held whereby a very limited number of pilgrims from various nationalities who already reside in Saudi Arabia, would be able to perform it,” read the statement from the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

“This decision is taken to ensure Hajj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective while observing all preventative measures and the necessary social distancing protocols to protect human beings from the risks associated with this pandemic and in accordance with the teachings of Islam in preserving the lives of human beings,” the statement added.

The government did not specify how many people would be permitted to take part.

The annual pilgrimage, which is set to begin this year at the end of July, traditionally draws around 2 million Muslims from around the world for five intense days of worship and rituals in Mecca.

Saudi Arabia has never canceled the hajj in the nearly 90 years since the nation’s establishment.

It halted the minor umrah pilgrimage, which can be performed year-round, in February, as the coronavirus began spreading across the region.

“We askAllah the Almighty to protect all countries from this pandemic and keep all humans protected and safe,” concluded the statement from the Saudi ministry, after announcing the limitations on the hajj.

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