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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.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
36 mins ago - Economy & Business

The Fed could be firing up economic stimulus in disguise

Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard at a "Fed Listens" event. Photo: Eric Baradat / AFP via Getty Images.

Even as global growth expectations increase and governments pile on fiscal spending measures central bankers are quietly restarting recession-era bond-buying programs.

Driving the news: Comments Tuesday from Fed governor Lael Brainard suggest the Fed may be jumping onboard the global monetary policy rethink and restarting a program used following the 2008 global financial crisis.

Democrats' hypocrisy moment

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo should be facing explicit calls to resign from President Biden on down, if you apply the standard that Democrats set for similar allegations against Republicans. And it's not a close call.

Why it matters: The #MeToo moment saw men in power run out of town for exploiting young women. Democrats led the charge. So the silence of so many of them seems more strange — and unacceptable by their own standards — by the hour.