Kuwait Bans Non-National Arrivals

The government of Kuwait is indefinitely suspending the entry of foreigners into the country. While this is a policy that has already been in effect since February 7th, the decision to renew the ban and make it indefinite came late on Saturday with very little warning. This extension leaves many expatriates stranded- many who had been counting on re-entering the country this week.

Kuwait 777
The decision follows a February 7th decision to ban the entry of all foreigners for two weeks. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

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Indefinite suspension of foreigner entry

It was a fortnight ago that Kuwait made a decision to ban the entry of all foreigners for two weeks. According to The Kuwait Times, even before the February 7th policy, there was a ban in place for arrivals from 35 countries.

This travel ban is reminiscent of what happened nearly a year ago, when Kuwait suspended all commercial passenger traffic in early March, only allowing the arrival of Kuwaiti nationals via special repatriation flights.

Jazeera Airways A320neo 2
The nation’s airlines, including Jazeera Airways and Kuwait Airways, will be most affected by this policy extension. Photo: Jazeera Airways

Trying to stop rising case counts

The decision is a response to the rapidly rising number of new COVID-19 cases, which clearly point to a second wave in the country. Kuwait Times notes that the country’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation said in a press statement late Saturday that its move was based on the instructions of health authorities.

Kuwait had a fairly prolonged ‘first wave,’ seeing new case counts of over 1,000 a day at the start of the crisis. While there were lows of around 500-600 new daily cases, there was significant progress made in late November and December. It was during this period that Kuwait had a low of around 200 new cases in a day. However, it now seems that cases are on the rise yet again – a fairly clear explanation for the country’s extended travel ban.

Kuwait cases
The country’s travel ban appears to be a response to this rapidly rising second wave. Photo: Worldometers.com

The impact of sudden travel bans

While the need to immediately suspend travel and restrict the movement of people is understandable, there is a notable toll on those affected. While most countries have at least allowed non-citizen residents to re-enter their borders, other countries like Kuwait have only allowed their own nationals.

With Kuwait’s March 2020 travel ban, many vacationing expats (or those on business) were forced to remain outside the country, away from their homes. Lasting for several months, many had to seek assistance within the country to pack up personal belongings and deal with landlords on evictions. In recent years, foreigners have accounted for as much as 70% of the population.

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The past year has seen a significant exodus of foreign workers from Kuwait. Photo: Eric Salard via Flickr 

These situations are not just unique to Kuwait, of course. Recently, an American woman made the news for owing $2,200 in parking fees for having her car parked at a Toronto Airport parking facility for about a year. The woman had flown out of Canada to Europe in March and was unable to return to her vehicle when pandemic restrictions took effect.

Have you been affected by this recent travel ban? Please share your experience with us by leaving a comment.