Minister for Religious Affair and Interfaith Harmony Noorul Haq Qadri has said that Saudi Arabia might allow up to 50,000 Pakistanis to perform Hajj this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The minister said that the Hajj 2021 would take place under special circumstances with special norms, rules and regulations, eligibility, criteria and age restrictions.
The intending pilgrims would be required to strictly follow Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) during Hajj, he added.
Qadri said only those people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 would be allowed to perform Hajj this year and his ministry would comply with all conditions to laid out by the Saudi authorities.
He said the pilgrims of less than 20 or over 50 years of age may not be permitted to perform Hajj this year. “Saudi Arabia may only allow those people having sound health without any serious medical condition.”
However, the minister said that the Saudi government has not yet given green signal for going ahead with the Hajj arrangements as various Saudi departments including the Hajj and Umrah Ministry, were still weighing different options to make Hajj safe and secure for the pilgrims.
Earlier this month, authorities in the kingdom had announced that only vaccinated or immune worshippers were allowed to perform Umrah and regular prayers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madina during the holy month of Ramazan.
The kingdom granted permits to only those pilgrims who have already got the two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, or those who took the first dose 14 days before applying to obtain the permit and those who recovered from the infection already.