Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia lifts entry ban but keeps some restrictions

Stricter rules in place for travellers from countries where B117 variant of virus is rampant

A security woman checks the temperature of a woman at Riyadh International Airport, after Saudi Arabia reopened domestic flights, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 31, 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri
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Saudi Arabia said travellers will be allowed entry to the kingdom by sea, land and air from Sunday after a two-week ban imposed over fears of a new fast-spreading coronavirus variant.

A ministry of interior official quoted by the Saudi Press Agency said some restrictions remain in place, including a requirement that foreigners travelling from countries where the new B117 variant is widespread, such as the UK and South Africa, should spend at least 14 days outside those countries and undergo a PCR test before entering the kingdom.

Saudi citizens seeking to enter the kingdom urgently from these countries will have to undergo a PCR test within 48 hours of arrival and quarantine for 14 days in their homes. They will have to be tested again on the penultimate day of the quarantine period.

For travellers from countries where some cases of the coronavirus variant have been detected, a home quarantine of seven days is mandatory, with a PCR test on the sixth day.

For arrivals from other countries, the procedures currently followed will apply – mandatory home quarantine of between three and seven days and a PCR test.

Riyadh suspended international flights and access through land crossings and ports on December 21.

Other Gulf countries, including Oman and Kuwait, which had taken similar measures, have also lifted them in recent days.

Last month Saudi Arabia was one of the first Gulf countries to launch a massive vaccination campaign using the Pfizer-BioNTech jab. People aged over 65 as well as those with chronic ailments or at a high risk of infection will receive the vaccine in the first stage, and those aged over 50 in the second, the health ministry said last month.

The kingdom has recorded more than 363,000 cases, including over 6,200 deaths due to Covid-19.

Saudi woman in tears after being the first to receive Covid-19 vaccine

Saudi woman in tears after being the first to receive Covid-19 vaccine