Saudi Arabia makes vaccination must and other criteria for Haj 2021
Saudi Arabia has made it clear that it will allow only those people to attend the haj this year who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
According to Saudi newspaper Okaz, vaccination is "one of the main conditions" to receive a permit to come.
In 2020, the kingdom dramatically reduced the number of pilgrims to around 1,000 to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, after barring Muslims abroad from the rite for the first time in modern times.
The government of India too has released a list of protocols to be followed this year for the haj yatra based on the final guidelines from Saudi Arabia.
Here are important things going for the haj this year from India:
- Announcing the schedule to this year's pilgrimage, the Haj Committee of India said that it will take place under special circumstances with special norms, rules and regulations, eligibility, criteria and age restrictions.
- The age limit prescribed by the government is 18-65 years.
- The pilgrims going the Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia have been asked to follow social distancing norms. Also, there are no provisions for the NRIs this year due to Covid-19.
- In the prevailing condition, Saudi Arabia may allow haj aspirants having sound health without co-morbidities like heart condition, diabetics, respiratory disorders, pregnancies and other serious illness, the Haj Committee of India said.
- The expenditure on Haj 2021 is expected to be relatively higher than during normal period. "Therefore, pilgrims who are financially sound enough to bear this extra expense should only apply," it further said.
- Any person not in possession of machine readable valid Indian international passport issued on or before 10th December, 2020 and valid at least upto 10th January, 2022 cannot apply, the guidelines said.
- Haj repeater, an individual who has already performed the haj through Haj Committee of India due to "once in a lifetime" condition won't be eligible. Such person, however, can go for the pilgrimage as a Mehram of a female pilgrim, if no other Mehram (who has not performed haj) is available, the committee said.