Land borders to reopen to workers in Oman as Covid rates drop

Omanis and GCC residents will be allowed to cross borders for work purposes

Workers can now travel across Oman's borders providing they have evidence of the need to travel from their employers. AFP
Workers can now travel across Oman's borders providing they have evidence of the need to travel from their employers. AFP

Oman announced the reopening of its land borders to workers from the GCC on Wednesday, along with a range of measures easing coronavirus restrictions.

The borders closed on January 19 after a second wave of Covid-19 hit the sultanate.

Those wishing to cross the border will need to present evidence from their employers of the need to travel, Oman's supreme committee for handling the pandemic said.

Mosques can also reopen for daily prayers, as long as capacity does not exceed 100 worshippers. Mosques will stay closed for Friday prayers.

Oman has registered 219,529 coronavirus cases and 2,370 deaths since the start of the pandemic. After a significant drop in infection rates from September to February, new cases peaked in April at 3,544 in one day, but have since dropped. On Tuesday, the sultanate announced 1,047 new cases.

The government brought in a raft of measures to prevent the spread of the virus over Ramadan and Eid. Some of the changes announced on Wednesday rescinded those strict rules.

Commercial operations, which were banned between the hours of 8pm and 4am, will be allowed to resume, with the proviso that malls, restaurants, shops and cafes stick to a 50 per cent capacity cap.

Wedding halls and exhibitions can reopen at a maximum of 30 per cent capacity, or 300 people.

Beaches, public parks and gyms will open to the public and hotels and clubs will be allowed to open their pools and gyms.

“It is a great relief to go back to normal. I have lost about 3,500 rials ($8,750) since they decided to close the shops early. Now we can have our usual evening customers back and go back to profitability and hopefully no other restrictions will be imposed soon,” Said Al Marhoobi, 44, owner of Seeb Paradise Restaurant in Muscat, told The National.

Event planners are also pleased.

“The last wedding we had was in December last year before a series of rules that nearly put us out of businesses were imposed on us," said Aisha Al Samsami, 37, owner of Bouquet Weddings.

"We used to have weddings almost every weekend and that supported our business very well. I am delighted that we are going back to the old days of making money. It was difficult for us to continue to pay the rent when there was no income.”

Omanis expressed relief at the opening up of facilities, saying now their lives will go back to normal at last.

“I am a health-conscious person and going to the gym is very important to me. I could not even go to the beach to exercise or the park for a walk. I am very happy that my life will go back to normal from today,” said Rashid Al Suleimy, 26, a National Bank of Oman employee.

Updated: June 2, 2021 06:40 PM

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