Saudi Arabia to only permit citizens and residents of the Kingdom for this year's Hajj pilgrimage, beginning mid-July, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced on Saturday.
Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that the Kingdom has restricted the annual Haj pilgrimage to its own citizens and residents for the second year running in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Kingdom will issue Hajj permits to 60,000 immunised pilgrims, including those vaccinated after recovering from the coronavirus or received two jabs of Covid19 vaccine or 14 days after receiving the first dose. Those registering for the pilgrimage should be within the age groups of 18 to 65 years and must be free from any chronic illnesses.
A statement from the ministry said that it decided to limit the availability of registration for Hajj for those wishing to perform the Hajj through an electronic path in order to ensure the rituals are performed in good health, security and safety, while adhering to regulatory controls, health standards and security requirements.
"Given the nature of the crowds during the Hajj, which extends at different times in different and specific places according to the order of performing the rituals, which makes the application of the highest levels of health precautions a very vital matter, to protect the health of the pilgrims and ensure their safety," a statement from the Ministry said, as cited by AP.
It confirmed that the move comes out of the Kingdom's "constant concern for the health, safety and security of pilgrims as well as the safety of their countries."
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has recorded 1,077 new cases on Saturday, making the total number of current covid cases in the Kingdom to 464,780. The Kingdom also reported 16 new covid related deaths on Saturday, with the total death toll rising to 7,553.