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Travel bans lift: What you need to do for your pilgrimage to Mecca during Covid

15 September 2021 10:01 AM
Tags:
Saudi Arabia
Mecca
Pilgrimage to Mecca
Covid-19 travel restrictions

Mo-aaz Casoo of the South African Hajj and Umrah Council talks to Refilwe Moloto about Covid restrictions still in place.
  • South Africa has been taken of Saudia Arabia's travel ban list
  • For those planning a pilgrimage to that country, there are a number of restrictions and requirements in place

Copyright: sufi70 / 123rf

South Africa has been taken off the Saudi Arabian red list

We have been on the red list since lockdown started last March and we have just been lifted in the last month from the red list of countries that were not allowed to travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Mo-aaz Casoo, Secretary General - South African Hajj and Umrah Council

Which airlines are flying between South Africa and Saudi Arabia currently?

Casoo says airlines remain limited.

We are still waiting for confirmation from the main airline carrier which is Saudi Airlines to confirm flights.

Mo-aaz Casoo, Secretary General - South African Hajj and Umrah Council

For now, you would have to go via QatarAir or Emirates Air.

Mo-aaz Casoo, Secretary General - South African Hajj and Umrah Council

Covid-19 regulations in Saudi Arabia - vaccinations, PCR tests, and quarantine?

Regulations there are really tight. Saudi Arabia is one of the countries that has got extreme measures in terms of Covid compliance.

Mo-aaz Casoo, Secretary General - South African Hajj and Umrah Council

People have got to take the mandatory vaccinations.

Mo-aaz Casoo, Secretary General - South African Hajj and Umrah Council

He says the Saudi government currently requires travelers to be vaccinated with the full course of one of the following four vaccines: Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson.

It looks like they are now also thinking of applying a PCR test prior to arrival and there could still be a possibility of a five-day quarantine period.

Mo-aaz Casoo, Secretary General - South African Hajj and Umrah Council

We are getting information on a daily basis, new rules, and new regulations coming out because they are slowly lifting the bans from various countries, so we are watching it on an ongoing basis.

Mo-aaz Casoo, Secretary General - South African Hajj and Umrah Council

Saudi Arabia has introduced apps to manage the pilgrimage numbers

There are two apps available - I'tamarna and Tawakkalna.

These applications incorporate all your information, your medical history of vaccines, any chronic diseases, illnesses, and movements around the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Mo-aaz Casoo, Secretary General - South African Hajj and Umrah Council

If you would like to pray in the Holy Mosque whether it be Mecca or Medina, you need to make a booking prior to going into the Holy Mosque because of the restrictions that are in place. They have kept a 1.5 - 2 metre distance between individuals praying, and so can only accommodate X amount.

Mo-aaz Casoo, Secretary General - South African Hajj and Umrah Council

Umrah can only be performed once at this stage.

At this point in time, you are also only allowed to perform one umrah per pilgrim that is coming to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Mo-aaz Casoo, Secretary General - South African Hajj and Umrah Council

Normally he says, pilgrims would make numerous umrahs in a two-week pilgrimage but for now, may only perform one upon arrival.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Dirco are working very closely together.

Mo-aaz Casoo, Secretary General - South African Hajj and Umrah Council



15 September 2021 10:01 AM
Tags:
Saudi Arabia
Mecca
Pilgrimage to Mecca
Covid-19 travel restrictions

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