The Saudi Arabian government starting Thursday, 27 February 2020, has temporarily postponed the issuance of tourist visas from countries affected by the corona virus or Covid-19 outbreak and at dangerous levels based on Saudi health authorities' criteria, including Indonesia, even though so far no Indonesian population has been confirmed positive for the corona virus or Covid-19. In addition, the Saudi government also temporarily banned Umroh pilgrims from entering Mecca City and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina. This temporary postponement relates to the efforts of the Saudi Arabian government to prevent the spread of the deadly virus to its territory.
According to the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs, as a result of the policy, around 4,000 Indonesian pilgrims were affected and could not depart from several airports in the country. While around 2,000 others who had already left, were stranded in a third country while in transit on Thursday last week.
The Indonesian government, especially the Indonesian Embassy in Riyadh, is trying to lobby and convince the Saudi government that Indonesia is still free from the corona virus. The embassy in Riyadh requested that the Saudi government accepts pilgrims who already have visas. But the Saudi government remained in its decision.
Indonesian Vice President, Ma'ruf Amin also responded to the matter. He perceived that the Indonesian government respects the Saudi government's policies and will not intervene. He hopes that all parties understood the consideration of the Saudi Arabian government which has temporarily postponed the pilgrimage. The Indonesian government also appealed to those who had not yet left to remain calm and follow the policies adopted by the Governments of Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. The Ministry of Religious Affairs will keep coordinating to handle the delayed departure of the pilgrimage.
To avoid losses on the pilgrims, the government has coordinated with Umroh Pilgrimage Organizers, airlines, and other related parties. All are expected to take swift steps in overcoming the force majeure without placing additional burdens on the pilgrims. Cooperation from all parties involved is needed so that Indonesian citizens who want to go on a pilgrimage or travel to Saudi Arabia, whose number can exceed 1 million people yearly with business value of trillions of rupiah, can immediately fulfill their Umroh pilgrimage.