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The Kaaba, a holy Islamic shrine. Photo: Abdel Ghani Bashir/AFP via Getty Images

Saudi Arabia said on Monday that it will only allow "very limited numbers" of people to perform the annual hajj this summer due to concerns over the novel coronavirus, AP reports.

Why it matters: The pilgrimage, which is set to occur at the end of July, typically draws around 2 million people from around the world. The Saudi government noted that only people already residing in the country will be authorized to participate.

  • "This decision was taken to ensure hajj is performed in a safe manner from a public health perspective," government officials said.
  • The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islamic faith, and all able-bodied Muslims are required to complete the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.

Between the lines: Saudi Arabia is a hotbed for the virus in the Middle East, with approximately 161,000 total confirmed cases and more than 1,300 deaths.

  • The country earlier this year suspended the smaller year-round umrah pilgrimage and closed the Grand Mosque in Mecca to curb the virus' spread.
  • Saudi Arabia has recently eased some of its coronavirus restrictions but continues to keep its borders shut to visitors.

Go deeper

Aug 19, 2020 - World

Scoop: Israel raises concerns with U.S. about new Saudi nuclear facility

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo: Pool/Getty Images

Israel has privately expressed concerns to the Trump administration about a new nuclear facility reportedly built in the Saudi desert with Chinese help, Israeli officials said.

Why it matters: This secret development raises concerns that the Saudis are building infrastructure for a future military nuclear program.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Inhofe loudly sets Trump straight on defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe speaks with reporters in the Capitol last month. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senator Jim Inhofe told President Trump today he'll likely fail to get two big wishes in pending defense spending legislation, bellowing into his cellphone: "This is the only chance to get our bill passed," a source who overheard part of their conversation tells Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans are ready to test whether Trump's threats of vetoing the bill, which has passed every year for more than half a century, are empty.

Conspiracy theories blow back on Trump's White House

Sidney Powell. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

President Trump has rarely met a conspiracy theory he doesn't like, but he and other Republicans now worry the wild tales told by lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood may cost them in Georgia's Senate special elections.

Why it matters: The two are telling Georgians not to vote for Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler because of a bizarre, baseless and potentially self-defeating theory: It's not worth voting because the Chinese Communist Party has rigged the voting machines.