Huge quarantine restrictions hit Mecca pilgrimage

Coronavirus fears mean that this year's pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina will see a massive cut in how many Muslims are allowed to attend Islam's holiest sites.

Some 2.5 million people typically visit for the week-long haj, many from overseas -- a massive throng of worshippers.

Now, Saudia Arabia is only allowing a mere 1,000 domestic pilgrims.

And Muslims from abroad have been banned for the first year in modern times.

Haj minister Mohammed Benten told a news briefing on Tuesday (June 23) that strict health criteria would be used to select eligible pilgrims among citizens and residents.

Those above 65 years old would not be allowed to attend at all.

The haj is due to start by the end of July.

Official data shows Saudi Arabia earns around $12 billion a year from the pilgrimage - and the lesser, year-round pilgrimage known as umrah, which remains suspended.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting