The Saudi authorities have shut out internationals from this year’s pilgrimage saying only residents of the country will be allowed to perform hajj.
Muslim faithful are expected to perform hajj at least once in a lifetime.
In a statement, the Saudi ministry of hajj and umrah said the decision was taken to curb the spread of Coronavirus.
Saudi Arabia has confirmed over 161,000 cases of coronavirus with at least 1,300 deaths.
The ministry said social distancing would be enforced during the pilgrimage.
It said in a statement, “It has been decided that Hajj for this year (1441 H/ 2020 AD) will be held whereby a very limited number of pilgrims from various nationalities who already reside in Saudi Arabia would be able to perform it.
“This decision is taken to ensure Hajj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective while observing all preventive measures and the necessary social distancing protocols to protect human beings from the risks associated with this pandemic and in accordance with the teachings of Islam in preserving the lives of human beings.”
Several countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Senegal and Singapore have announced that their citizens will not attend hajj this year while some others have advised their citizens to avoid participating in this year’s pilgrimage.
About 2.5 million pilgrims normally travel to the city of Mecca for the annual pilgrimage.
Saudi Arabia had suspended the issuance of visa to pilgrims wishing to perform Umrah (lesser hajj) over coronavirus.