Saudi Arabia has banned international visitors from the Islamic pilgrimage, or Hajj this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Authorities, in a statement on Monday, announced that the pilgrimage, which will begin at the end of July, will be restricted to only Saudi residents.
The hajj is one of Islam’s most important religious activities.
The statement read in part: “This decision is to ensure Hajj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective while observing all preventative measures and the necessary social distancing protocols to protect residents from the risks associated with this COVID-19 pandemic.”
The authorities added that the decision is in accordance with the teachings of Islam in preserving the lives of human beings.
Meanwhile, some countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Senegal, and Singapore have withdrawn from the pilgrimage due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The annual pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca always attract more than two million people every year, with nearly 2.5 million attendance in 2019 and a major source of revenue for Saudi Arabia.