"We need to convey to the otban (airport authority) that the Religious Affairs Ministry is (trying to) prepare various technical matters as an anticipatory measure for the opening of Umrah during the pandemic," head of the sub-directorate for monitoring and supervision of Umrah and special hajj at the Religious Affairs Ministry, M. Noer Alya Fitra, said in a written statement received here on Thursday.
The one-door Umrah pilgrimage departure scheme was initiated to facilitate control and supervision as well as ensure the health, security, and safety of pilgrims amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he explained.
The Hajj hostel would be the starting point for the departure of Umrah pilgrims, he added.
"Umrah pilgrims must be (on the) clear in the Hajj dormitory, be in terms of travel documents completion and their health requirements. Therefore, we really need the assistance of airport authority to ensure that the Hajj hostel facilities meet the requirements to be treated as an international departure place, such as services for regular pilgrims," he stressed.
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Head of the Region I Airport Authority, Yufridon Gandoz Situmeang, lauded the initiative and measures taken by the ministry.
The airport is ready to back up the ministry's program by preparing Umrah services at Soekarno-Hatta Airport, he said.
"Regarding technical matters at the Hajj hostel, we will immediately evaluate its readiness as an international terminal. With a concept like the regular Hajj, it means that the Hajj hostel has conducted health checks and immigration for Umrah pilgrims, including transportation equipment from the hostel to the airport it really must be safe and secure," he added.
He deemed direct flights safer for the pilgrims. He also suggested that the planes used by the pilgrims not be used to ferry regular passengers.
"We must ensure that Umrah pilgrims are safe and not exposed to COVID-19 while traveling, so it would be better if they were not placed together with regular passengers," he added.
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