Saudi Arabia sets 1,000-person limit on Hajj pilgrims – down from 2.5million in a normal year – and bans foreigners from Mecca as country battles coronavirus
- The Hajj pilgrimage is the largest gathering of Muslims in the world
- It lasts for five or six days as pilgrims travel to the ‘House of Allah’ in Mecca
- In 2019, 2.5million Muslims made the pilgrimage to the city in Saudi Arabia
- But this year, coronavirus fears mean only 1,000 Saudi Arabians can attend
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Saudi Arabia has enforced a 1,000-person limit on Hajj pilgrims this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Hajj is the largest gathering of Muslims in the world where a pilgrimage is made over five or six days to the ‘House of Allah’, known as the Kabba, in Mecca.
Last year, 2.5million Muslims from around the world gathered to perform the pilgrimage but this year’s celebration, set to take place between July 28 and August 2, has been restricted to just 1,000 people currently living in Saudi Arabia due to the global pandemic.
This year’s Hajj pilgrimage, the largest gathering of Muslims in the world, has been restricted to just 1,00 people due to the coronavirus pandemic
The Hajj is a mandatory religious duty for all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of making the journey to Mecca to do at least once in their lives.
Saudi Arabia officials have said the pilgrimage will be limited to under-65s only with no chronic illnesses.
Pilgrims will be tested before arriving in Mecca, with the country’s government ordering them to quarantine at home after the event.
Saudi Arabia has seen the number of COVID-19 cases rise to over 164,000, with 1,346 confirmed deaths as of Wednesday morning (June 24).
The pilgrimage see Muslims travel to the ‘House of Allah’, known as the ‘Kabba’ (pictured) in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca
Last year, 2.5million pilgrims attended the gathering, which is mandatory religious duty for all Muslim adults who are capable of making the trip either physically or financially
India’s minister for minority affairs revealed that 200,000 applied to go the pilgrimages and will now receive refunds for any deposited money towards the travel.
Shahid Rafique, chairman of a Pakistani hajj tour operators’ group, revealed that many Muslims had been making plans to attend this year’s pilgrimage for many years, and that the restrictions came as a great disappointment to those individuals.
He added: ‘Professionally, it is a big loss for us, for all the private hajj organisers, and we may not be able to recover from this loss for many years.’
However, some have understood the reasoning behind the restrictions, due to the severity of the coronavirus crisis across the world.
Former Iranian public transport worker Abdollah Pouyan said: ‘Overall, this is for the benefit of everyone.
‘When it gets really busy, when there are so many people there, can they really control the situation or maintain social distancing?’