Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday the temporary restriction of travel to the UAE, Ethiopia, Vietnam and Afghanistan amid concerns over the spread of highly transmissible Covid-19 variants. The Saudi Ministry of Interior said the new regulations would start from 11pm on Sunday.
The kingdom has restricted travel “without prior permission” to the four countries owing to the “ongoing outbreak of the pandemic” and made quarantine mandatory for those arriving from the four countries, after the regulations take effect tonight.
The ministry said citizens who returned before 11pm on Sunday would be exempt from entering quarantine. In May, Saudi Arabia lifted travel restrictions on 11 countries, including the UAE.
Saudi Arabia reopened its land, sea, and air borders on May 17, allowing vaccinated citizens or those who had recovered from Covid-19 to travel outside the kingdom after a 14-month lockdown.
“I just arrived in Dubai two days ago and I am shocked to hear this news. Will try to go back as soon as possible,” Faisal Alsharif, a Saudi citizen in Dubai told The National.
The government has also urged citizens to remain cautious in countries where travel is currently permitted.
“Just when we thought life would go back to normal, this pandemic has proven once again that we are constantly living in the fear of the unknown,” Mr Alsharif said.
“The Ministry of Interior calls upon citizens wishing to travel to the countries to which travel is permitted to be careful, stay away from areas where the virus is spreading, and follow all precautionary measures, regardless of their destination,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Saudi Arabia reported 1,338 new Covid-19 cases and 16 deaths on Friday. The health ministry announced on Friday that more than 18 million vaccine doses have been administered through 587 designated vaccination centres across the kingdom.