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Saudi Arabia lifts travel ban on citizens, but India still on 'no go' list

385 flights would depart from nine Saudi airports on Monday

saudia rep Representational image | Saudia Facebook account

Saudi Arabia reopened its airports, seaports and land border crossings early on Monday, allowing its citizens to travel outside the kingdom as it lifted the 14-month-long travel ban imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arab News reported the General Directorate of Passports had specified eligibility criteria for those nationals wishing to travel abroad.

"The categories include those who have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, those who received one dose at least two weeks prior to travel, those recovering from the virus within six months from the date of travel, and citizens under 18-years-old provided they present a travel insurance policy approved by the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA), covering the risks of COVID-19 outside the Kingdom before travel," Arab News reported.

The civil aviation authority stated 385 flights would depart from nine Saudi airports on Monday for international destinations.

However, India remains on a list of 13 countries to which Saudi citizens cannot travel directly or indirectly due to COVID-19. The National, a UAE-based publication reported, "The banned countries are Afghanistan, Armenia, Belarus, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Turkey, Venezuela and Yemen. They are no-go zones because of instability or surges in coronavirus cases."

No quarantine for vaccinated foreigners

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia announced that foreign nationals of most countries flying to the kingdom will no longer need to quarantine if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Reuters reported, "The civil aviation authority said that from May 20 non-Saudi visitors arriving in the kingdom from eligible countries by air who are fully vaccinated, or have had COVID-19 and recovered, will no longer have to spend seven days in government-approved hotels as long as they provide an official vaccination certificate upon arrival. Currently, all travellers coming into the kingdom need to quarantine for a period of seven to 14 days depending on the countries where they are coming from, and provide negative PCR tests."

The National reported on Monday that "Saudia said all travellers to the kingdom 'must obtain and show proof" of two doses of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca or Moderna, or one from Johnson & Johnson. People travelling to the kingdom after one shot or a negative PCR test must complete seven days of quarantine at their own expense.”

However, visitors from 20 countries, including India, the US and UK, remain barred from entering Saudi Arabia on account of continuing COVID-19 spread there.

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