Middle East

Saudi Arabia to allow 1m Hajj pilgrims as COVID restrictions are eased

Saudi Arabia announced yesterday that it will permit up to 1 million people to perform the annual Hajj this year, amid the lifting of two years of COVID restrictions, whereby only a few thousand local residents were allowed to perform the pilgrimage.

According to a statement, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said it “has authorised one million pilgrims, both foreign and domestic, to perform the Hajj this year.”

The Hajj will be “open to those who are under 65 years old and have received the main Covid-19 vaccinations approved by the Saudi Ministry of Health,” the statement said.

READ: Saudi imposes 10-day waiting period between Umrah permits

Pilgrims arriving from overseas must also submit a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before their departure to the kingdom.

Saudi authorities want to promote pilgrims’ safety “while ensuring that the maximum number of Muslims worldwide can perform the Hajj,” the ministry’s statement added.

At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, only 1,000 pilgrims were able to take part in the Hajj. This limit was increased to 60,000 last year for fully vaccinated, domestic participants.

Prior to the pandemic, around 2.5 million people from around the world would take part in the pilgrimage, which is one of the five pillars of Islam.

READ: Palestinians in Gaza resume Umrah pilgrimage after 2-year hiatus

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