Saudi Arabia restricts visitors to Hajj due to Covid-19
For the second consecutive year, Saudi Arabia has announced that foreign visitors will not be permitted to visit the country to perform Hajj owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The country has also placed a strict limit of 60,000 vaccinated pilgrims in 2021 for its citizens and residents.
“Those wishing to perform the hajj must be free of chronic diseases and be vaccinated”, and between the ages of 18 and 65, its Ministry of Health said in a statement on Saturday.
“In light of what the whole world is witnessing with the coronavirus pandemic and the emergence of new variants, the relevant authorities have continued to monitor the global health situation,” the statement added.
The number of people allowed to perform Hajj this year is still a boost on the previous year’s numbers when visitors to the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah were limited to just 1000 Saudi citizens and residents. It was the first restriction of people performing the Hajj in modern times.
Hajj and Umrah are a significant source of income to Saudi Arabia, which earns around $12bn a year with around 2.5 million pilgrims taking part pre-coronavirus. According to its Ministry of Health, the country has vaccinated almost 16 million people and has recorded 466,906 cases and 7,590 deaths. Its authorities have decided to take these measures to protect both their own citizens and potential visitors.