Saudi Arabia to allow international flights from September 15

'Exceptional categories' allowed to travel in or out of kingdom, with full lifting scheduled for January 1

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Saudi Arabia has announced a partial lifting of its suspension of international flights from Tuesday to allow "exceptional categories" of citizens and residents to travel, state news agency Spa reported on Sunday.

The kingdom will scrap all travel restrictions on air, land and sea transport for citizens on January 1, 2021, an Interior Ministry official told the agency.

Saudi Arabia suspended all international flights in March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Those eligible to travel from Tuesday include military and public employees, diplomats and families, workers in regional and international organisations, those with permanent jobs outside the kingdom, and businessmen.

Patients who need treatment abroad, particularly for cancer treatment or organ transplants, are allowed to travel.

Also eligible are people with humanitarian cases, students on scholarships or medical fellowship programmes, and sports teams.

GCC citizens and non-Saudi residents with valid residency or visitors' visas will be allowed to enter the kingdom, provided they can show proof that they are Covid-19 negative.

The ministry official said the lifting of travel restrictions would take effect from 6am on Tuesday.

The travel ban was among stringent measures in the kingdom to curb the spread of the coronavirus, including 24-hour curfews on most towns and cities.

The kingdom also cancelled Umrah pilgrimages and allowed only a limited number of citizens and foreign resident to perform the Hajj this year.

The official said a decision to gradually allow the resumption of Umrah would be assessed separately from the current lifting of travel restrictions.

Saudi Arabia has recorded 325,651 Covid-19 cases and 4,268 deaths, with daily infections down drastically from a peak of nearly 5,000 in mid-June.

The Saudi Ministry of Health on Sunday reported 601 new cases and 28 more deaths.

The number of patients who have recovered rose by 1,034 to 302,870, the ministry said.


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