Saudi Arabia demands pilgrims vaccinate against Covid-19
In a circular seen by Saudi newspaper Okaz, the Saudi minister of health, Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, told ministry employees that proof of vaccination would be mandatory for all people performing the holy pilgrimage to Islam's most holy sites this year.
"The compulsory taking of the coronavirus vaccine, for those wishing to participate, is one of the conditions for participation in the Hajj season," said Al-Rabiah.
In addition the circular called for the establishment of a coronavirus committee, to oversee preparations for the event and ensure that they have, "the manpower required to operate the health facilities in Mecca, the Holy Sites, Medina and the entry points for pilgrims".
It has not been announced how many pilgrims will be permitted to attend this year, following last year's strict limit on the number of visitors.
In 2020, Saudi Arabia limited the number of pilgrims to just 10,000, considerably less than the 2.5 million who can usually be expected to attend.
As well as imposing heavy restrictions on the 2020 Hajj, Saudi Arabia also suspended the Umrah pilgrim for all Muslims from abroad in March, and did not lift restrictions until November.
Similar to the Hajj, Umrah is a pilgrimage, but can be taken at anytime of the year, unlike the Hajj.
This year’s Hajj pilgrimage will run from 17 - 22 July.
Saudi Arabia recorded its first coronavirus case on 2 March, 2020, and to date has recorded over 378,000 cases and 6,500 deaths.
Since starting its vaccination drive, the gulf nation has vaccinated 780,667 people so far.