TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas said the departure of Indonesian umrah pilgrims to Saudi Arabia would not be suspended despite the rising cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
He clarified that the ministry instead stopped the implementation of the One Gate Policy (OGP) scheme for umrah service that was valid since the trip was resumed on January 8, 2022.
“The public has somewhat misunderstood the information. It is not umrah trips that are stopped, but the OGP which was terminated on January 15 because it (pilgrimage departure) can be carried out without OGP,” said Yaqut in the meeting room of the House of Representatives (DPR) Commission VIII, Jakarta, Monday, January 17.
Yaqut emphasized that the policy was taken because no countries or regulations could prohibit their citizens from traveling abroad once they have obtained a visa.
“There is no law that prohibits citizens from going abroad when they get a visa unless they are in a legal trouble. So if they get a visa, they have the right [to travel overseas], but the government has the right to arrange the regulations,” he explained.
However, the ministry ordered the Director-General of Hajj and Umrah Hilman Latief not to revoke the OGP scheme yet. This was because Omicron cases still existed among umrah pilgrims when the policy was imposed.