This year’s Hajj is limited to Saudi citizens, residents

(FILES) In this file photo taken 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. - Saudi Arabia announced it would hold a "very limited" hajj this year owing to the coronavirus pandemic, with pilgrims already in the kingdom allowed to take part. © AFP/STR

Authorities in Saudi Arabia decided to allow a limited number of citizens and residents; who are already in the Kingdom to do this year’s Hajj.

In a statement on Monday; the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said that a very limited number of pilgrims who already reside in Saudi Arabia, can perform Hajj this year. This is in light of the continuation of the coronavirus pandemic; and the risks of infections spreading in crowded spaces and large gatherings;

Public health perspective

“The purpose of this decision is to ensure performing Hajj 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. It also comes in accordance with the teachings of Islam in preserving the lives of human beings, the statement added.

“The Saudi government is honored to serve millions of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims annually. It also 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, the statement said.

Saudi Arabia’s top priority is to always enable Muslim pilgrims to perform Hajj and Umrah rites safely and securely. Also, the Kingdom has been keen to take all necessary precautionary measures to protect pilgrims. This is including by suspending the entry of Umrah pilgrims; while ensuring the safety of the pilgrims already present at the holy sites, the statement further added.

Commenting on the Hajj decision; the Saudi Human Rights Commission said that Saudi Arabia believes in the universal right to health. Limiting Haj not only protects the Kingdom but also many pilgrims and the communities they call home around the world.