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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 27 -- Travel agencies offering umrah packages have expressed relief over the government’s decision to allow Muslims to resume the pilgrimage from Feb 8 and hope that efforts will be made to improve the existing standard operating procedures (SOP).
Travenexx Tour Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Hairul Anwar Ali said this included tightening the rules on the pilgrims’ accommodation and transportation.
“According the SOP that was issued in October last year, the number of pilgrims in a room is limited to two people while only 25 passengers are allowed in a bus.
“However, in November last year, the relaxing of restrictions was given when four pilgrims were allowed in a room. There were also some of the pilgrims who gathered in large groups during a meal break.
“Therefore, maybe travel agencies can discuss with the hotel management to make improvements such as providing packed food for the pilgrims to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he said when contacted by Bernama today.
Hairul Anwar added that each pilgrim should also bring additional COVID-19 self-test kits to make it easier for them to check their health status.
“The pilgrims can get themselves tested using the self-test kits if they develop symptoms and immediately inform their respective travel agencies if the test results are positive,” he said.
Meanwhile, Umrah and Haj Travel Agencies’ Association president Datuk Seri Razali Mohd Sham hoped that the pilgrims would look at all factors, including their health and the current COVID-19 situation before performing the umrah.
Yesterday, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, when announcing the resumption of umrah travels said the decision was made as the government did not intend to extend its postponement which came into effect on Jan 8 due to the spread of the Omicron variant.