COVID-19 Risks Prompt Saudi Arabia to Restrict Hajj for a Second Year

As in 2020, foreigners eager to perform Islam’s holiest pilgrimage, the Hajj, will not be permitted to enter the kingdom of Saudi Arabia because of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.

Circling of the Kaaba near the center of the Great Mosque in Mecca in 2020 when the Hajj was limited to 1,000 pilgrims. (Photo
Circling of the Kaaba near the center of the Great Mosque in Mecca in 2020 when the Hajj was limited to 1,000 pilgrims. (Photo by Leo Morgan,

No more than 60,000 pilgrims a day will be allowed to perform the week-long Hajj July 17 - July 22, which is normally observed by more than 2 million pilgrims. The ministry is also restricting participation to those who are vaccinated and free of chronic disease. On June 12, Saudi authorities announced the cap on those participating and directed that only Saudi citizens or residents age 18 to 65 may attend.

“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is honored to host pilgrims every year, confirms that this arrangement comes out of its constant concern for the health, safety and security of pilgrims as well as the safety of their countries,” Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced. “In light of what the whole world is witnessing with the coronavirus pandemic … and the emergence of new variants, the relevant authorities have continued to monitor the global health situation.”

As one of the world’s largest mass gatherings, where social distancing is difficult, the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 is high. Last year, to prevent the virus from spreading, Saudi authorities limited the Hajj to some 1,000 Saudi citizens and residents. Two-thirds of the pilgrims were residents picked from the 160 different foreign nationalities whose members would have typically been represented at the Hajj. The remaining third were Saudi security personnel and medical staff.

In anticipation of Saudi restrictions and over concerns surrounding the pandemic, Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, canceled the Hajj pilgrimage for its citizens for a second year.

“Due to the pandemic and for the safety of the pilgrims, the government has decided that this year it won’t allow Indonesian pilgrims to go again,” stated Indonesian Minister of Religious Affairs Yaqut Cholil Qoumas June 3. 

Performing a pilgrimage to Mecca, Hajj, at least once in one’s life is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The others are Shahadah, the declaration of faith; Salat, daily prayer; Zakat, charity; and Sawm, fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.


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COVID-19 Hajj Saudi Arabia Five Pillars of Islam