The Indonesian government has begun to allow the departure of Umrah pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. In Indonesia where the majority of the population is Muslim, Umrah is one of the important worships that many people covet. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the implementation, which involves a trip to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, has been forced to stop. However, with the development of Covid-19 cases that are sloping around the world, especially in Indonesia, the Umrah service has begun to be carried out again. This year’s first Umrah pilgrims left Indonesia on January 8, 2022. There are 1,731 pilgrims who have departed using the One Gate Policy (OGP) scheme.
Director General of Hajj and Umrah at the Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs, Hilman Latief said that the One Stop Policy scheme requires all Umrah pilgrims to undergo quarantine for one day before flying to Saudi Arabia via Soekarno Hatta Airport. They must carry out health screening and complete documents, including standard PCR examinations from the Ministry of Health.
However, more recently, the Ministry stated that it was temporarily suspending flights for Umrah pilgrims starting January 15, 2022. This decision was an effort to evaluate the One Gate Policy (OGP) scheme, including monitoring the development of the Omicron variant in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.
According to the schedule, the Umrah pilgrims who departed on January 8 will return to Indonesia today, January 17, 2022. The Directorate General of Hajj and Umrah will observe the health conditions of the pilgrims upon arrival in the country, including in the context of the development of the Omicron virus.
Given the increasing number of people who have been exposed to the Omicron variant recently, the policy of temporarily stopping the departure of Umrah pilgrims must be understood by prospective Umrah pilgrims and Umrah Travel Organizers. The circular letter of the Directorate General of Hajj and Umrah Organization of the Ministry of Religion mentions that there are various rules for Umrah pilgrims after traveling abroad. It is mandatory to carry out quarantine in accordance with the provisions of the Covid-19 Task Force at hotels that have obtained legality. The quarantine period stipulated for Foreign Travelers entering Indonesia is 7 x 24 hours.
The temporary suspension and evaluation of the organization of the Umrah pilgrimage is, of course, for the good of many people. Director General of Hajj and Umrah, Hilman Latief has also emphasized that this evaluation is carried out in line with the development of Omicron in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. Prevention is always better than cure, including comprehensive prevention of the spread of the Omicron virus that could occur from the Umrah pilgrimage.
The steps taken by the government and followed by all parties are expected to prevent Indonesia from experiencing a peak in cases of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus, which is predicted to occur in mid-February to early March 2022.
Hopefully, no Umrah pilgrims are exposed to the Covid 19 virus with all its variants, especially the Omicron variant. May the evaluation that will be carried out by the Ministry of Religion will be successful. So, the departure of Umrah pilgrims can be carried out again.