New rules for Muslim pilgrims have been issued. The new rules allow only those aged between 18 and 50 to perform Hajj, the greater Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca and one of the five pillars of Islam, and umrah, the lesser Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca that can be taken at any time.
The Hajj and umrah agencies, in a statement, said that the new conditions issued by the Saudi health ministry also dictate that a traveller must present a negative PCR test from an acknowledged lab in Jordan.
According to the new rules, the pilgrim must be tested in Saudi Arabia both on arrival and upon departure, and tested again in Jordan upon arrival, accumulating to overalls of four tests within the 10-day travel period on the expense of the traveller.
The conditions also entail having Saudi authorities quarantine pilgrims in a designated hotel for three days upon arrival before they can start their trip, effectively taking three days out of the pilgrim’s 10-day trip.
Under the new rules, buses maximum capacity will be capped at 24 passengers instead of the normal 45, increasing the cost for passengers to make up for the reduced numbers on board. Room capacity also will be limited to a maximum of two instead of four, and passengers ought to pay full price to compensate for the two free beds.
Other restrictions include limiting the pilgrim to perform a single round of umrah, unlike the situation it used to be before.
Moreover, pilgrims will have to pre-book the time on which they will carry prayers and umrah rituals, in accordance with the capacities of the Great Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque, according to the statement.
The new rules indicate that a health leader and managerial consultant from the Saudi company will accompany pilgrim groups in their trips to mosques.
Strict measures will be enforced in case that an individual is found to be COVID positive. All passengers in the group will be quarantined for 14 days and they will have to bear increased expenses in terms of meals, medicines, housing, in addition to the price of a new ticket as the time of departure would be amended.
The statement said that no news has been shared regarding flights as airlines have not officially opened direct flights to Saudi Arabia, while the prices for the aforementioned costs have not been divulged yet due to the “confusion” arising from the new rules, but the cost is expected, nonetheless, to increase more than threefold from the usual, with expectations that many will not book any trips.
Ammon News –