Hajj and CoronavirusSafety and Security of Pilgrims Top Priority
Dr Mozammel Haque

Safety and security of the Muslim pilgrims is the top-most priority of the Saudi government. The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said this year the risk of transmitting the disease between the countries and the increase in infections globally meant the risk was too high.

There is ongoing threat from the coronavirus pandemic and the virus is accelerating across the world. “in light of continuation of the pandemic and the risks of Coronavirus spreading in crowded spaces and large gatherings,” the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said and it made the following announcement.
The Saudi government announced on Monday (22 June 2020) evening that Hajj 2020 will go ahead next month this year but with a ‘very limited’ number of pilgrims from all nationalities already residing in Saudi Arabia are allowed to perform it.
The decision was taken due to the ongoing threat from the coronavirus pandemic and to preserve “global public health,” the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said. Pilgrims taking part will be from various nationalities currently residing in Saudi Arabia. The Hajj this year is set to begin at the end of July.

“This decision is taken 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 human beings from the risks associated with this pandemic,” the statement said.
The Ministry said, Saudi Arabia’s top priority is to always enable Muslim pilgrims can  perform Hajj and Umrah safely and securely.”

According to the Jeddah-based English daily Arab News, “About 2.5 million pilgrims performed Hajj last year but the ongoing scale and spread of COVID-19 worldwide means people will not be able to travel to the Kingdom to take part.” (Monday, 22 June 2020) 
The statement of the Saudi Ministry said, “The government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques is honoured to serve millions of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims annually and it confirms that this decision stems from the top priority it accords maintaining the safety of pilgrims on its land until they depart to their home countries.
We ask Allah the Almighty to protect all countries from this pandemic and keep all humans protected and safe.” –SPA 

Although Saudi Arabia has lifted some restrictions in recent days around the country, the Umrah and international flights remain suspended and its land and sea borders remain closed. 
Arab News mentioned, “Last year, more than 1.8 million pilgrims travelled to Saudi Arabia from abroad to take part.