Saudi Arabia has announced on Thursday that it will allow direct entry from six countries including Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Egypt without spending 14-day quarantine in a third country.
The new directive will come into force from 1:00 am on Wednesday, Dec. 1 2021; the Saudi Press Agency reported quoting an official source of the Ministry of Interior.
Brazil and Vietnam are the other countries that included in the new list of countries allowed direct entry into the Kingdom. All those who come from these countries are required to spend five days in institutional quarantine, regardless of their immunization status outside the Kingdom, the source said.
The ministry source said that it will continue applying the exemptions issued earlier with regard to quarantine for some categories of travelers. After Thursday’s decision to allow direct entry from six countries, the remaining countries that are still facing the travel ban are Turkey, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Lebanon.
The Ministry of Interior source stressed the importance of adhering to the application of all precautionary measures and preventive protocols that have taken to stem the spread of coronavirus.
“All the procedures and measures are subject to continuous evaluation by the competent health authorities in the Kingdom, according to the developments in the epidemiological situation globally,” the source said adding that the decision was taken after continuous follow-up of the pandemic situation locally and globally, as well as after examining reports of the Saudi health authorities about the developments of the COVID-19 pandemic and the extent of the stability of the epidemiological situation in a number of countries.
Earlier on Aug. 24, the Ministry of Interior had issued directives to allow direct entry of fully vaccinated expatriates from countries facing travel ban. It was applicable only to those foreigners who have a valid residency permit (iqama) and left the Kingdom on exit and reentry visa after taking two doses of vaccine against coronavirus from Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia had temporarily suspended all international flights from March 15, 2020, following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Though the suspension of international flight service lifted after one year on May 17, 2021, it was not applicable to 20 countries due to the coronavirus situation in those countries.
It is noteworthy that the Ministry of Interior announced the suspension of entry of expatriates from 20 countries into the Kingdom as part of measures to combat coronavirus, effective from Feb. 3, 2020. The move exempted Saudi citizens, as well as foreign diplomats, health practitioners, and their families.
The countries that faced the suspension of travel were Argentina, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, Turkey, South Africa, Lebanon, and Egypt, Germany, the United States, Japan, Ireland, Italy, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Swiss Confederation and France.
It was also instructed that those coming from other countries required 14 days quarantine in a third country if they had passed through any of these 20 countries during the 14 days preceding their application to enter the Kingdom.
Later, new countries of Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Vietnam were added to the list of banned countries. The Saudi authorities eventually lifted travel suspension with all these countries except the remaining four ones.