The Saudi Ministry of Health announced that Muslims who want to perform the annual hajj pilgrimage this year would need to prove that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The government said it would consider coronavirus vaccination as ‘the main condition for participation’ in the pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah that all Muslims who can are obliged to make once in their lives.

The statement did not specify whether the Hajj, which traditionally draws some 2 million Muslims from across the world, would again exclude pilgrims from outside the Kingdom to prevent contagion.

Last year, Saudi officials permitted only a minimal number of pilgrims already within the Kingdom to perform the Hajj amid the surging pandemic.