Saudi Arabia Says COVID-19 Vaccination Is ‘Must’ For 2021 Hajj
Saudi Arabia ruled that only people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to attend the hajj this year. Saudi newspaper Okaz reported quoted the kingdom’s health ministry as syaing on Monday.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is mandatory for those willing to come to the hajj. It will be one of the main conditions (for receiving a permit to come),” the report said. It also cited a circular signed by the health minister.
Saudi Arabia stakes its reputation on its guardianship of Islam’s holiest sites in Makkah and Medina and its peaceful organization of the hajj. However, the hajj has been marred in the past by deadly stampedes, fires, and riots.about:blank
During the 2020 hajj, the kingdom dramatically reduced the number of pilgrims to around 1,000. Why? To help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Meanwhile, it also barred Muslims abroad from the rite for the first time in modern times.
Meanwhile, touching the ‘Kaaba’ was also banned last year.
Hajj, a once-in-a-lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it, is a major source of income for the Saudi government.
Crowds of millions of pilgrims from around the world would likely be a hotbed for virus transmission. In the past, some worshippers have returned to their countries with respiratory and other diseases.