This year’s hajj will be restricted to residents in Saudi Arabia, the government of the country said in a statement Monday.
The decision was made to ensure the safety of pilgrims due to the coronavirus pandemic, Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Twitter.
“In light of continuation of the pandemic and the risks of coronavirus spreading in crowded spaces and large gatherings, and its transmission between countries, and the increase in average infections globally,” the foreign ministry wrote.
“It has been decided that Hajj for this year (1441 H/ 2020 AD) 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.”
COVID-19 disease, a contagious pneumonia-like infection, has infected over 9 million people half of whom have recovered and killed about half a million.
The outbreak pushed countries to enforce nationwide lockdown and international travel bans. But even though cases continue to rise in some countries, restrictions have been lifted in some of them.
Saudi Arabia has 50,000 active cases — and has discharged double of that — but has lifted some of the lockdown restrictions it enforced when it broke out in the Asian country.
The country’s government said it is restricting the hajj rites to locals due to the uncertainty that surrounds the spread of the virus and its incurability at the moment.
“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,” it said in its statement.
Hajj is an annual Islamic rite that traditionally draws around 2 million people from around the world, and this year’s edition is set to hold at the end of July.
At least once in their lifetime, all able-bodied Muslims with financial means are required to perform hajj, the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia which centres around five intense days of worship and rituals in Mecca, the city that houses Ka’aba, Islam’s most sacred site.
Due to the pandemic, some countries like Malaysia and Indonesia had earlier announced that they would not be sending their citizens to the pilgrimage this year.
According to statements by the Saudi government below
In light that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread to more than 180 countries around the world, and that deaths related to COVID-19 have reached almost half a million and over 7 million cases have been confirmed globally,
and in accordance with what has been stressed by the Saudi Ministry of Health regarding the continued risks stemming from this pandemic and the lack of available vaccinations and a cure for those who have been infected by Covid 19 around the world. and to preserve the security of global public health especially in light of the increase in the number of cases in most countries according to reports issued by global health organizations and institutions. and considering the risks of the disease and infections spreading in crowded gatherings where it is difficult to maintain safe social distancing among the individuals gathered.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose top priority is to always enable Muslim pilgrims to perform Hajj and Umrah rites safely and securely and which has been keen since the beginning of the pandemic to take all necessary precautionary measures to protect pilgrims, including by suspending the entry of Umrah pilgrims while ensuring the safety of the pilgrims already present at the holy sites, a decision that has received many approbations from Islamic and international organizations in recognition of its wide contribution to fighting the virus globally and supporting the efforts of health organizations in limiting the spread of the deadly disease, and in light of continuation of the pandemic and the risks of Coronavirus spreading in crowded spaces and large gatherings, and its transmission between countries, and the increase in average infections globally.
it has been decided that Hajj for this year (1441 H/ 2020 AD) 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. 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 lslam in preserving the lives of human beings.
The government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques is honored to serve millions of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims annually and it confirms that this decision stems from the top priority it accords maintaining the safety of pilgrims on its land until they depart to their home countries.
We ask Allah the Almighty to protect all countries from this pandemic and keep all humans protected and safe.