Saudi Arabia's Hajj selection to prioritise non-citizens and health workers

This year's pilgrims will be made up of 70 per cent residents and 30 per cent citizens, with health workers being given priority

Saudi Arabia has announced that this year's Hajj pilgrims will comprise 70 per cent residents and 30 per cent citizens, with health workers being given priority.

International attendance to the pilgrimage has been restricted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said ensuring health standards would be the main factor behind the selection process, with citizen pilgrims being strictly chosen from healthcare workers and security personnel who have already fully recovered from Covid-19.

They will be selected from a recovery database and as a "token of appreciation for their role in providing care for our society as it fought the pandemic", Saudi Press Agency reported.

The ministry said it would also prioritise healthy, non-Saudi Arabian residents of the country between the ages of 20 and 50, to be allowed to take part after testing them for the virus. They will be asked to quarantine for an unspecified period of time before and after performing Hajj.

Those eligible, can register at https://www.haj.gov.sa between July 6 and July 10.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia announced a ban on impromptu gatherings and meetings during the Hajj to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The authorities decided in June to limit the number of pilgrims to about 1,000. It is the first time in the modern era that those overseas are unable to travel to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage.

Touching the Kaaba will also be prohibited this year, and pilgrims will have to keep a minimum distance of one and a half metres from one another during the rituals, including mass prayers and while performing tawaf (walk around the Kaaba seven times).

The ministry said special plans, including healthcare services and segmentation, have been put in place this year.

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