Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced that a very limited number of pilgrims from various nationalities who already reside in Saudi Arabia would be able to perform Hajj this year (1441 H/ 2020 AD), a Saudi Press Agency report said.
The decision will mean that international visitors will not be able to make the pilgrimage due to the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19).
This decision has been taken to ensure that Hajj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective while observing all preventive measures and the necessary social distancing protocols to protect pilgrims from the risks associated with this pandemic and in accordance with the teachings of Islam in preserving the lives of human beings, a ministry statement said.
An estimated two million people annually visit Makkah and Madinah for the annual religious gathering.
The ministry’s statement said the decision has been taken in light of the Covid-19 spreading to more than 180 countries around the world and the continuing risk from the virus.
Saudi Arabia’s priority is to always to enable Muslim pilgrims to perform Hajj and Umrah rites safely and securely and since the beginning of the pandemic it has taken 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, it said.
“The Government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques is honoured to serve millions of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims annually and it confirms that this decision stems from the top priority it accords to maintain the safety of pilgrims on its land until they depart to their home countries,” it said.
“We ask Allah the Almighty to protect all countries from this pandemic and keep all humans protected and safe,” it added.