Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 October 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: ‘Hectic’ reopening at Muscat airport but Omanis left waiting for land border opening

Some are impatient for the Oman border with the UAE at Dubai to reopen

A duty-free employee, wearing a protective face mask due to the Covid-19 pandemic, restocks a shelf at the Muscat international airport in the Omani capital on October 1, 2020. / AFP / MOHAMMED MAHJOUB
A duty-free employee, wearing a protective face mask due to the Covid-19 pandemic, restocks a shelf at the Muscat international airport in the Omani capital on October 1, 2020. / AFP / MOHAMMED MAHJOUB

Muscat airport fully reopened from incoming and outbound flights on Thursday but land borders remained closed.

Resources at Oman’s busiest airport were stretched as it opened its doors for the first time in six months, with social distancing and other coronavirus measures creating more work for staff.

Oman Air restarted flights to 18 destinations across the world on Thursday, including two weekly flights between Muscat and Cairo and a twice-weekly service to and from Dubai.

Passengers, wearing protective face mask due to the Covid-19 pandemic stand in a queue at Muscat international airport. AFP
Passengers, wearing protective face mask due to the Covid-19 pandemic stand in a queue at Muscat international airport. AFP

“We are working throughout today. The shifts are stretched out because of the pandemic safety rules,” Rashid Salem, one of the Muscat airport’s ground staff, said.

“Many passengers treat the flights as in normal times forgetting that we all need to adhere to regulations. It has been quite hectic at times.”

The committee responsible for Covid-19 said passengers arriving into Muscat airport must take a PCR Covid-19 test on arrival and have medical insurance covering the entire duration of their stay in the country.

Passengers are also required to wear a wristband and follow a 14-day quarantine regardless of test results.

But Oman’s land borders remain shut for regular travellers until further notice. The land borders are only open for goods deliveries, medical supply and travellers with special permits to go through.

The most awaited land border is the Oman-UAE border at Dubai, which according to official statistics, is used by more than 70 per cent of travellers between the two countries, both nationals and residents.

“I am very disappointed that we cannot still drive to the UAE by car. I was looking forward to it. Dubai is my favourite holiday destination and I never visit it by air,: said Maher Al Adawi, 34, a resident of Sohar.

“Let’s hope the border to the UAE will open soon.”

Oman has not published infection statistics since the announcement of a three-day mourning period following the death of the Emir of Kuwait.

But the most recent figures show a total of 935 people have died from the pandemic in Oman so far and 98,585 people have been infected while 88,528 have recovered.

Updated: October 2, 2020 10:16 AM

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