This year’s Hajj has been scheduled for the end of July. But only around 1,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The chosen people will be of various nationalities but currently living in the kingdom.
The decision to exclude pilgrims outside Saudi Arabia is a first in the Kingdom’s modern history. It remains unclear what the selection process will be like this year.
The pilgrimage will be limited to those below 65 years of age and with no chronic illnesses. The pilgrims will be tested for COVID-19 before arriving in the holy city of Mecca. And will be required to quarantine at home after the ritual.
As of June 27, Saudi Arabia recorded 174,577 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,474 deaths. Mosques reopened in the country after two months on May 31. Saudi Arabia ended its nationwide curfew on June 21. But bans on international travel and religious pilgrimages were not changed.
2.5 million attended the five-day Hajj ritual last year. Throughout history, the Hajj has been cancelled because of war and epidemics. But not since the founding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932.
In India, around 2,13,000 people had applied to go on Hajj this year. The Indian government said it would reimburse payments made by Indian pilgrims for the same.