Saudi Arabia bars Haj for international pilgrims this year due to COVID-19, Saudi Arabia


Saudi Arabia bars Haj for international pilgrims this year due to COVID-19

In a breaking news, Saudi Arabia has banned all international pilgrims from Hajj this year, an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca due to Coronavirus pandemic. The announcement was made on Monday by the Saudi government, where it said that only a limited number of Saudi residents and citizens will be allowed to visit Mecca to ensure social distancing this year.

It will be for the first time in modern history that Muslims from across the globe won’t be able to make the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, an important ritual for Muslims as they are supposed to perform Haj at least once in a lifetime.

The official statement released by the Saudi Ministry of Haj and Umrah mentions, “In the 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 Haj 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.”

The statement further said the decision is taken to make sure that Haj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective, maintaining all the measures to protect people from the risks related with this Coronavirus in accordance with the teachings of Islam in preserving the lives of human beings.

Every year, around 2.5 million pilgrims visit Mecca and Medina to perform the week-long Haj pilgrimage. According to official data, the country earns more than $12 billion a year from the pilgrimage.

In March 2020, the country stopped international passenger flights and asked pilgrims to hold their Haj plans until further notice. International pilgrims wanting to perform Umrah were also asked to hold their travel until further notice.

The local travel agents are happy with the decision as they believe that the huge gathering would account for more virus cases and human life is precious. As of now, Saudi Arabia has recorded 161K COVID-19 positive cases and 1307.

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