Saudi Arabia Drops Quarantine; Indonesian Govt Called to Adjust Umrah Policy

7 March 2022 13:38 WIB

A number of Umrah pilgrims queue as they entere Terminal 3 of Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Tangerang, Banten, Saturday, January 8, 2022. The Religious Affairs Ministry has sent 419 people to perform umrah, marking the first departure of umrah pilgrims after the country had stopped sending pilgrims in the past few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ANTARA PHOTOS/Fauzan

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Saudi Arabia government has recently revoked a number of regulations in its Covid-19 prevention measures, with two most prominent ones in the dropping of PCR test requirement and quarantine for visitors, including umrah pilgrims. 

The Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs director general of hajj and umrah, Hilman Latief, on Monday said Saudi’s regulatory update will affect the umrah program and hoped the Health Ministry and BNPB will take steps to adjust to it. 

Both the Health Ministry and National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) are two authorized state institutions overseeing Indonesia Covid-19 restriction policies. 

"I am optimistic that there will be a policy alignment soon, as Indonesia has now started to make adjustments to its quarantine policy," said Hilman in a statement on March 7. 

He also believes that the Religious Affairs Ministry must soon coordinate with the BNPB and Health Ministry to discuss provisions that would likely have to be compromised.

The Ministry of Religion’s position in this regard is more in preparing the implementation of policies related to the prevention of Covid-19, he argued. "Including if later Indonesia must one day revoke the one gate policy or one door for departure of Umrah pilgrims from the Hajj hostel as it has been practiced to date," he said.

The former Director of Infectious Diseases of WHO Southeast Asia, Tjandra Yoga Aditama, said that the high vaccination coverage might be one of the reasons Saudi Arabia has relaxed its policy. Based on the "Our World in Data" website on March 5, 2022, 67.8 percent of Saudi citizens have received a complete vaccination.

The same page states that Indonesia has vaccinated 53.3 percent of the total population. This number is shy of the world average Covid-19 vaccination coverage of 55.9 percent. "So maybe we need to consider the same thing for the policy transition in our country later on," said Tjandra.

Read: Indonesia Slashes Quarantine Days in Latest Travel Requirement

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