A Saudi official says the Hajj pilgrimage, which usually draws millions of Muslims from all over the world, will only see at the most “thousands” of pilgrims next month due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The kingdom’s Hajj minister Muhammad Benten said it will be a “small and very limited” numbers of pilgrims to ensure social distancing and crowd control amid the virus outbreak.
He added that the government is still in the process of reviewing the numbers of overall pilgrims allowed, saying they could be as low as 1,000 people or a little more.
In a virtual press conference on Tuesday, Saudi officials said that no one over the age of 65 will be allowed to perform the Hajj and that all pilgrims and those serving pilgrims this year will be quarantined both before and after the pilgrimage.
Mr Benten said: “This is a very sensitive operation and we are working with experts at the Health Ministry.”
It is a blow to those who have waited and saved money for years to afford the journey.
The Hajj is not only a requirement for all Muslims to preform once in a lifetime, but it is also a chance to wipe away past sins and connect with Muslims from all walks of life.
The Hajj typically draws 2.5 million people from inside Saudi Arabia and around the world.