According to RT, the Saudi government has released a decision requiring all Muslim visitors to the kingdom who wish to perform the Hajj pilgrimage to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
The country’s Health Ministry declared the decision earlier today, stating that vaccination against COVID-19 is “the main condition for participation” in the annual Hajj rites in Mecca, home to the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest place.
It’s unclear when these new regulations will take effect, or whether Muslim pilgrims preparing to perform the religious rite during the upcoming Hajj season, which begins in July, will be forced to apply evidence of vaccination as part of their travel plans to Saudi Arabia.
With an estimated 2.5 million pilgrims in 2019, Hajj is one of the world’s largest annual human gatherings. It is an essential pillar of Islam and a moral obligation for all able-bodied Muslims to perform at least once in their lives.
The kingdom placed travel limits, enforced social distancing, and other public health and safety precautions at the holy site following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in late 2019. As a result, the number of pilgrims allowed to perform the Hajj last year was reduced to 1000, all of whom were Saudi citizens.