Thai Umrah pilgrims arrive at the King Abdulaziz airport in Jeddah.
Saudi officials receiving pilgrims at the King Abdul Aziz airport in Jeddah in a file photo. Image Credit: Okaz

Dubai: Saudi Arabia has instructed all pilgrims who wish to perform the annual Hajj to carry a negative PCR test valid for 72 hours, local media reported.

The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has issued a new circular to all airlines operating to Saudi airports, including chartered airlines, regarding the health requirements that should be met by Hajj pilgrims.

The circular stipulates that all airlines carrying passengers arriving in Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj this year to commit to the following guidelines: passengers should be less than 65 years old, have completed immunization with basic doses of COVID-19 vaccines accredited by the Ministry of Health, and to submit a negative PCR test for COVID-19 for a sample that was taken within 72 hours prior to departure to the Kingdom.

Legal action shall be taken against violators who will also be held accountable for the consequences of their violations.

Last week, Saudi Arabia announced am entry ban to Mecca for expats without permits.

“As per official instructions, only expatriates who obtain a permit for entry to Mecca will be allowed into the holy city from Thursday, May 26. They can obtain permits from the security control centers at the entry points to Makkah,” Brig. Gen. Sami Al Shuwairekh, the spokesman for Public Security, said.

All vehicles and residents who do not have the required documents will be turned back, he said while noting that these documents include an entry permit to work at the holy sites issued by the competent authority, residency permit (iqama) issued from Mecca, Umrah permit, and Hajj permit.

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia raised the number of Hajj pilgrims allowed this year to one million from inside and outside the kingdom.