Saudi Arabia to permit 1 million pilgrims to go to Mecca with Covid precautions

Saudi Arabia will enable 1 million overseas and home Muslims to journey to the holy metropolis of Mecca this 12 months for the annual hajj pilgrimage in July, the nation’s Ministry of hajj and umrah introduced Saturday.

The pilgrims should be vaccinated towards Covid-19, be underneath 65 and take a look at detrimental for the virus inside 72 hours of leaving for Saudi Arabia, the ministry mentioned in a press release. The transfer is a big step towards normalcy for an annual ritual that usually attracts tens of millions of believers to the dominion. The hajj was severely restricted to only 1,000 home guests in 2020, and to 60,000 of them final 12 months.

The variety of pilgrims from every nation might be capped based mostly on quotas and different well being issues, based on the ministry. The kingdom started accepting pilgrims from overseas final August for a smaller pilgrimage that may happen any time of 12 months, often called umrah.

Pandemic restrictions had saved many religious Muslims from endeavor a journey required of the pious at the least as soon as throughout their lives, and for which many save up for years. It is an enormous enterprise for firms throughout the Islamic world that cater to pilgrims.

During the pandemic the few who had been in a position to make the pilgrimage had been required to be socially distanced and masked, and had been prohibited from kissing the Kaaba, the holy shrine on the centre of Mecca that pilgrims circle as they full the hajj. It was not instantly clear if these restrictions would stay in place for this 12 months’s hajj.

After reaching a peak of greater than 5,000 instances a day on common on the peak of its omicron wave in mid-January, Saudi Arabia is now reporting about 100 every day infections, based on a New York Times database. About 70 per cent of the nation is absolutely vaccinated.

This article initially appeared in The New York Times.

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