Indonesia prepares 3 scenarios for haj amid COVID-19 pandemic
JAKARTA — Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Ministry has prepared three scenarios for next year’s haj departure.
The country has decided to cancel haj departures this year, initially scheduled for June 26, as Saudi Arabia’s indefinite postponement of haj and umrah (minor haj) did not give enough time for the government to prepare health protocols for the journey.
However, if the pandemic is over by 2021, all 221,000 pilgrims of the 2020 haj will depart next year. The pilgrims who were initially scheduled to leave in 2021 will be deferred to 2022.
“Unless [Indonesia] gets a bigger quota from Saudi Arabia next year,” the ministry director general of haj and umrah, Nizar Ali, explained on Tuesday as quoted by kompas.com.
In the second scenario, in which the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down, the quota for pilgrims will be decreased and not all of the 2020 pilgrims will depart in 2021.
”If decreased to 50 percent [of the quota], there must be additional costs in flights and accommodation as these services also apply health protocols by reducing capacity,” Nizar said.
The third scenario, in which the pandemic is still not under control by 2021, will see the haj canceled again and the pilgrims deferred to 2022.
Some 2.5 million Muslims across the globe visit Mecca and Medina for the religious pilgrimage. For many Indonesians, it is a once-in-a-lifetime event and people wait an average of 20 years to be part of the annual quota.
As of Tuesday, Saudi Arabia has reported 308,654 COVID-19 cases and 3,691 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
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