Oman extends UK entry ban and adds Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam to list

Decision follows a rise in Covid-19 cases since restrictions were eased last week

Sidab Town in the Omani capital, Muscat. Oman has added Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam to a list of countries from which travel is banned. Saleh Al Shaibany
Sidab Town in the Omani capital, Muscat. Oman has added Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam to a list of countries from which travel is banned. Saleh Al Shaibany

Oman has banned arrivals from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam and extended a bar on entry to travellers from the United Kingdom and 11 other countries after a rise in coronavirus infections.

Oman’s Covid-19 response committee said the ban, which came into effect on Saturday, would remain in place for an indefinite period.

It also applies to Sudan, Brazil, Nigeria, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt and the Philippines.

Covid-19 cases have risen in the sultanate since it eased coronavirus restrictions on June 2. It allowed shops to stay open between 8pm and 4am, among other measures.

The daily average number of cases reported from May 31 to June 3 was 1,130, compared with 820 for May 27 to 30.

Oman has registered about 221,000 cases and 2,385 deaths from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Along with extended business hours, the authorities opened beaches, parks, mosques, exhibitions on June 2, and allowed wedding halls to hold receptions at 50 per cent capacity.

Traders welcomed the lifting of restrictions on business during peak hours.

“The shopping restriction started at the most profitable time for us. Most people in Oman do their shopping from eight in the evening up to midnight. The restriction took away most of our customers and we were really struggling for income,” said Hamed Al Kaabi, who owns a textile shop in Muscat.

But some Omanis feel the shopping restrictions should have continued for a little longer.

“Malls and high street shops are now packed in the evening, especially this weekend. This cannot be good for all of us,” Khalil Al Balushi, 72, said.

“It is too soon to remove the shopping restrictions because many people, especially the young, don’t respect social distancing at all.”

A trader lays out his produce at the Mawaleh market in Muscat, Oman. AFP
A trader lays out his produce at the Mawaleh market in Muscat, Oman. AFP

The travel bans are felt particularly by foreign workers, especially those from the Indian subcontinent.

“I was hoping the ban on the Indian flights would be lifted around this time,” said Atul Pandey, 46, an electrician in Muscat.

“I have not seen my wife and two kids for more than two months since they left for a holiday back home. It may well be many more weeks until they can come back.”

Oman currently allows arrivals from fellow GCC states and a few other countries including France, Belgium, Italy, Jordan, Ireland and Kenya.

Updated: June 5, 2021 09:32 PM

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