Published on : Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Saudi Arabia is going to hold a “very limited” Hajj for citizens and residents living inside the country due to the threat of this deadly coronavirus.
The Saudi Arabian Kingdom will go ahead with the annual pilgrimage that traditionally draws around two million people from around the world, though the Ministry of Hajj did not specify how many people would be permitted to take part.
The Saudi Arabian government said that its decision to limit the number of pilgrims was made due to the lack of an available vaccine for the virus or a cure for those infected, as well as the risks associated with large gatherings of people.
The ministry said that this decision was taken to ensure Hajj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective. It comes as the government announced it will end a nationwide curfew and lift restrictions on businesses from Sunday morning, after three months of lockdown.
The restrictions will remain in place for religious pilgrimages, international travel and social gatherings of more than 50 people. Saudi Arabian kingdom has one of the highest rates of coronavirus infections in the Middle East, with more than 161,000 total confirmed cases and 1,307 deaths.
Saudi Arabia had already suspended the smaller year-round umrah pilgrimage earlier this year and closed the Grand Mosque in Mecca, home to Islam’s holiest site, to the public. The city of Mecca was also under a strict lockdown for around two months.
Although Saudi Arabia has lifted some restrictions in recent days around the country, the umrah continues to be suspended and its borders remain shutting to visitors and tourists. Indonesia and Malaysia, which combined send around a 250,000 Muslims to the Hajj each year, had already announced they would not be sending their citizens to the pilgrimage this year.