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Jakarta Post

Indonesia drafts 'umrah' protocols as Saudi Arabia plans to reopen to pilgrims

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, September 23, 2020   /   05:19 pm
Indonesia drafts 'umrah' protocols as Saudi Arabia plans to reopen to pilgrims Muslim pilgrims wearing face masks partake in tawaf around the Kaaba during the annual haj amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on July 31. (REUTERS/Saudi Ministry of Media/Handout)

The Religious Affairs Ministry is preparing health protocols and a regulation for Indonesians going on umrah (minor haj) to Saudi Arabia as the Middle Eastern country plans to reopen to international worshippers.

Noer Alya Fitra, an official from the ministry overseeing haj registration, said the ministry was working with the Health Ministry while waiting for more information from Saudi Arabia.

“We will [adjust] the health protocols with the guideline issued by the Saudi Arabian government,” Noer said on Wednesday as quoted by kompas.com.

He added the ministry was drafting a regulation stipulating technical instructions to be obeyed by Indonesian congregations when participating in the ritual. The regulation would, among other provisions, prevent the elderly from taking part in the pilgrimage given that they are more susceptible to succumbing to disease.

The policy would also regulate cost and determine whether people with congenital diseases or comorbidities would be allowed to visit.

Read also: Indonesia prepares 3 scenarios for haj amid pandemic

Noer said whether Saudi Arabia would include Indonesia on the list of countries allowed to send umrah pilgrims would depend on coronavirus cases in the country.

“We hope that when umrah is allowed again at 100 percent [capacity], Indonesia is in a position in which the number of COVID-19 cases is decreasing,” he said, urging people to be patient.

Saudi Arabia will allow pilgrims residing inside the country to go on the pilgrimage starting Oct. 4, following a seven-month pause due to coronavirus concerns, Reuters reported. The Middle Eastern country would also allow visitors from specific countries deemed safe starting Nov. 1.

Saudi Arabian authorities recorded that 19 million people participated in umrah last year. Official data show that the haj and umrah earn the kingdom about US$12 billion a year.

As of Tuesday, Saudi Arabia has confirmed 330,798 COVID-19 cases and 4,542 deaths, as cases in the Gulf region topped 800,000. (syk)