There is still no indication whether a quota system will be put in place to accommodate international Hajj and Umrah pilgrims under the covid-19 pandemic. This as the Saudi government has announced a phased-in strategy to accommodate those wishing to perform Umrah this year.
The first two stages of the four-part plan will only allow Saudi residents and citizens at the beginning of October, while a limited number of international guests will be facilitated in November. Thousands across the globe have welcomed this announcement, as many have had to cancel their Umrah plans due to the covid-19 pandemic.
The Saudi government had closed its borders earlier this year and only allowed locals who had passed several health checks to participate in this year’s Hajj.
The President of the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) Shaheen Essop says that the number of locals allowed to enter Saudi Arabia will be affected by this country’s travel regulations.
“If you’re coming from a country where the infectious rates are quite high, or there’s an ever increasing infectious rate… then I think it’s going to be difficult for us to obtain visas [for the Hajj and Umrah].”
Essop has urged Muslims to continue to practice the necessary hygiene protocols so that it helps South Africa to bring down the covid-19 infection rate. This will in turn influence whether the Saudi government will allow Umrah and Hajj pilgrims from this country.
Written by: Gadija Davids, senior journalist, Radio 786