Around 1,000 Hajj pilgrims allowed into Mecca amid virus
The pilgrims will be required to quarantine after the ritual
Saudi Arabia will only allow 1,000 pilgrims into the holy city of Mecca for Hajj this year, in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
"The number of pilgrims will be around 1,000, maybe less, maybe a little more," Hajj Minister Mohammad Benten told reporters. "The number won't be in tens or hundreds of thousands" this year, he added.
According to sister publication Arabian Business, Hajj will be limited to those below 65 and with no chronic illnesses. The pilgrims will also be tested for the virus before entering Mecca and must quarantine at home afterwards.
The news comes after Saudi authorities revealed Hajj would take place ‘in very limited numbers’ this year. With only those already living in the Kingdom permitted to take part. The decision marks the first time in modern history that Muslims outside the Kingdom have been unable to perform the pilgrimage.
The hajj is a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lifetimes,
doubling as a massive drive for religious tourism in the country. Last year the event drew in close to 2.5 million people.
The Minister gave no details on how the 1,000 pilgrims would be selected.