Saudi Arabia says this year’s pilgrimage will be limited to 60,000 citizens and residents.
No foreign pilgrim will be allowed to perform the Hajj one more year after Saudi Arabia restricts the annual pilgrimage to citizens and residents and sets a maximum of 60,000 pilgrims in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Those wishing to practice hajj must be free of chronic diseases and be vaccinated” and between the ages of 18 and 65, the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.
“In light of what everyone is witnessing with the coronavirus pandemic … and the emergence of new variants, the competent authorities have continued to monitor the global health situation,” the statement added.
Last year, the kingdom reduced the number of pilgrims to about 1,000 Saudi citizens and residents to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, after banning Muslims abroad from the rite for the first time in modern times.
Two-thirds were residents among the 160 different nationalities who would normally have been represented in the Hajj. A third were security personnel and Saudi medical personnel. This year the pilgrimage is expected to begin in mid-July.
Hajj, a a unique duty to life for all Muslims with capacity that can be afforded, it is an important source of income for the Saudi government.
Before the pandemic imposed social distancing globally, some 2.5 million pilgrims used to visit the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina during the week-long Hajj and the year-round Umrah pilgrimage, which earned the kingdom about $ 12 billion a year, according to official data .
The congregation of millions of pilgrims around the world could be one of the main causes of coronavirus transmission.
To date, Saudi Arabia has recorded more than 463,000 coronavirus infections, including 7,536 deaths.
The health ministry says it has administered more than 15 million doses of coronavirus vaccine, in a country with a population of about 34 million.
In a relaxation of the curbs of the coronavirus last October, Saudi Arabia opened the Great Mosque to pray for the first time in seven months and partially resumed the Umrah pilgrimage.
The limit of Umrah pilgrims is 20,000 a day, with a total of 60,000 worshipers allowed to make daily prayers at the mosque.
The Umra usually attracts millions of Muslims from all over the world every year. Authorities said Umrah would be allowed to return to full capacity once the pandemic threat subsided.