In statement, Gulf kingdom’s health ministry says vaccinations will be ‘main condition’ for Hajj this year
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday announced that it will bar Muslims from performing the annual Hajj pilgrimage if they cannot provide proof that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Gulf kingdom’s health ministry, in a statement, said that vaccination would be “the main condition for participation” in this year’s Hajj. Health Minister Tawfiq Al Rabiah had earlier said that “compulsory vaccination” would be required for all pilgrims wishing to perform the Hajj.
The ministry statement did not specify whether this year’s Hajj, set to begin around July 17, would exclude pilgrims from outside Saudi Arabia to curb the spread of COVID-19. Last year—during the pandemic’s peak—the pilgrimage was limited to just 1,000 pilgrims who already lived in Saudi Arabia.
The annual pilgrimage is traditionally attended by around two million people and comprises a minimum of five days. In Islam, all Muslims who are capable of performing the Hajj are required to do so at least once in their lifetime.
Saudi Arabia commenced its coronavirus vaccination drive on Dec. 17, with officials saying that over 200,000 people had already been inoculated. As of March 1, the Gulf kingdom has reported 377,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and around 6,500 deaths.