Saudi Arabia lifts Covid-19 restrictions and flight suspensions

Social-distancing measures removed at the Grand Mosque and Prophet’s Mosque, but worshippers will still need to wear masks

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Saudi Arabia on Saturday announced that it was lifting all precautionary and preventive measures related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the state news agency reported.

The decision was based on "the follow-up to the epidemiological situation of coronavirus, the competent health authorities’ feedback, and the progress that has been achieved in combating the pandemic", the Saudi Press Agency said.

SPA also cited the progress made in the national vaccination programme and the high rates of immunisation and immunity against the virus in the community.

Accordingly, PCR tests and rapid antigen tests no longer need to be provided by passengers arriving in the kingdom, the interior ministry said. Also, quarantine on arrival is no longer a requirement for those travelling to the kingdom.

But all passengers arriving in the country on visit visas are requested to have medical insurance to cover the costs of treatment from infection with coronavirus during the period of their stay,

Social distancing measures in all open and closed places, activities, and events were also suspended, and wearing masks is no longer a requirement in open areas.

Worshippers will no longer need to maintain social distancing in mosques – including the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah – starting with the dawn prayer on Sunday. However, people must continue to wear masks inside the mosques.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced that people no longer have to book prayer slots online for the two holy mosques.

But pilgrims who want to perform Umrah or pray in the Rawdah – which is considered the heart of the Prophet’s Mosque, close to his tomb – still need to book through the Eatmarna or Tawakkalna apps.

Saudi Arabia has been reporting fewer than 500 daily Covid-19 cases in the past three days and the majority of the population has been vaccinated.

The kingdom lifted the suspension of direct flights to and from 17 countries – South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, eSwatini, Mozambique, Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia, Madagascar, Angola, Seychelles, Comoros, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Afghanistan.

Authorities reminded the public to take the third booster dose and said that the Tawakkalna application is still needed to enter offices, some public and private buildings, airports and public transport vehicles.

Saudi Arabia's Health Ministry said "the wise leadership has spared no effort or support to protect the citizens and residents of the kingdom" and said that 99 per cent of people over the age of 12 have been vaccinated.

Updated: March 06, 2022, 8:54 AM