Hajj Organizer Recommends to Suspend 2021 Pilgrimage

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  • Worshippers pray near Kaaba in the Grand Mosque while practicing social distancing, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during the holy month of Ramadan, in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia May 4, 2020. The country's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said recently on Twitter that it would reopen the two mosques Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS

    Worshippers pray near Kaaba in the Grand Mosque while practicing social distancing, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), during the holy month of Ramadan, in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia May 4, 2020. The country's Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said recently on Twitter that it would reopen the two mosques Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Chairman of Umrah and Hajj Organizers Union Syam Resfiadi suggested to delay the Indonesian hajj pilgrimage until next year, following the current uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    “I personally recommend us not to go this year. Let's delay until next year, with the assumption that the health condition has returned to normal,” he said Tuesday, April 13.

    The Indonesian government has yet so far heard from Saudi Arabian authority regarding the hajj quota for this year. The religious affairs ministry is continuing its preparation for 2021 hajj pilgrimage while waiting for official information from Saudi Arabia.

    Syam said that the cost is potential to blow at around 25-30 percent if the pilgrimage is performed during the pandemic. The increase is caused by the adjustment of the capacity of accommodation and transportation due to the Covid-19 restriction.

    Besides, the regulation to use direct flights will also add to the operational costs. Direct flight prices are expected to be higher than transit filghts. Not to forget the PCR swab tests and quarantine costs. These issues can possibly make the pilgrims-to-be ask for a delay until next year's hajj season.

    With such a condition, Syam said that the organizers will face an administrative risks, as a cancelation can affect the departure manifest. “So, it is better to suspend [the hajjj pilgrimage] until next year, if Covid-19 cases can be suppressed with vaccines or drugs,” he remarked.

    Read: Religious Affairs Minister: Covid-19 Vaccine Mandatory for Umrah Pilgrims

    FRANCISCA CHRISTY ROSANA