With Saudi Arabia set to open up international travel today, 20 countries will still be banned from flying to the Middle-Eastern nation to curb the spread of COVID-19. The banned countries include the US, Brazil, the UK, France, Germany, India and Japan.
Saudi Arabia bans travel from 20 countries
Despite lifting its ban on international flights at 1 AM local time today, Saudi Arabia will continue to maintain its travel ban on 20 countries. The ban will remain in place for countries that Saudi Arabia deems as high risk.
The banned countries in question are Argentina, the UAE, Germany, the US, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, the UK, Turkey, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Lebanon, Egypt, India and Japan.
Non-citizens have been banned from flying from the aforementioned countries since Feb 3rd. The ban includes travelers who have passed through any of these countries in the 14 days prior to entering Saudi Arabia.
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Vaccinated citizens are now free to leave
Saudi Arabia has maintained strict control over outbound citizens to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Since March 2020, Saudi citizens have been unable to leave the country, with the measures designed to stop new variants from entering the country.
However, with Saudi Arabia making good progress in its vaccination program, citizens are now free to leave the country for the first time in over 14 months. Saudi Arabia has vaccinated approximately 11.5 million citizens (at least one jab) out of a population of 30 million.
According to Arab News,
“The categories include those who have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, those who received one dose at least two weeks prior to travel, those recovering from the virus within six months from the date of travel, and citizens under 18-years-old.”
There are 13 countries to which Saudis are still banned from traveling. According to UAE-based news outlet The National,
“The banned countries are Afghanistan, Armenia, Belarus, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Turkey, Venezuela and Yemen. They are no-go zones because of instability or surges in coronavirus cases.”
Saudis were seen lining up in droves to cross the King Fahd causeway into Bahrain early this morning.
Watch: Hundreds of cars line up the King Fahd causeway to enter #Bahrain as thousands of citizens and residents of #SaudiArabia are expected to cross the 25-kilometer bridge on Monday morning after reopening for the first time in more than a year.https://t.co/TVr66ipPvv pic.twitter.com/uX0oRaHJDv
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) May 16, 2021
No quarantine for vaccinated and recovered travelers
In addition to lifting restrictions on its own vaccinated citizens, Saudi Arabia will allow vaccinated and recovered travelers from most countries to enter without quarantine measures. Previously, all travelers entering Saudi Arabia needed to undergo a seven to 14-day quarantine at a government-approved hotel.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has now said that, from May 20th, non-citizens who have been fully vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 are exempt from the country’s mandatory hotel quarantine. Travelers will need to present an official vaccination certificate upon arrival.
All unvaccinated travelers over the age of eight are required to quarantine for seven days and provide a negative PCR test on day six. Additionally, a negative PCR test taken no later than 72 hours before arrival is required, and travelers must have a valid health insurance policy. Tourist visa holders are also still not allowed into Saudi Arabia, no matter what the country of origin.
Do you think Saudi Arabia has made the right decision to open up travel? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.