Saudi Arabia to lift all travel restrictions on citizens from Jan. 1
RIYADH — Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday that it would lift totally the restrictions on citizens for leaving and returning to the Kingdom, with opening all land, sea and airports starting from Jan. 1, 2021 in line with the coronavirus-related precautionary measures and protocols.
Citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council states as well as expatriates and their dependents on valid visa will be allowed to enter the Kingdom effective from Sept. 15.
They include expatriates who have valid exit and reentry visa, work visa, residency permit (iqama) and visit visas provided that they fulfill all the coronavirus related precautionary measures and protocols and a coronavirus negative test result carried out 48 hours before the entry of the Kingdom
The decision was taken on the basis of the reports presented by the competent authorities regarding the latest developments in combating the pandemic in the Kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported quoting an official source at the Ministry of Interior.
The report highlighted the continuing high rates of the epidemic spread in a number of countries, some of which are currently facing a second wave of the pandemic.
The decision is also out of the government’s keenness on the safety and health of citizens in light of the possibility of not having a safe and effective vaccine to prevent this disease before the end of 2020, the spokesman said.
The ministry source stated that a plan to lift the suspension of Umrah service will be announced gradually, based on what will be decided independently later in this regard, in light of the developments related to the pandemic.
According to the ministry statement, the date set for lifting the suspension of all travel restrictions will be announced 30 days before Jan. 1. The Ministry of Health has to submit a request with regard to preventive health requirements to be taken by the passengers during the travel as well as at airports, seaports and land entry stations.
The ministry announced exemptions for the entry and exit from the Kingdom before Jan. 1, for the following categories of citizens and expatriates effective from Sept. 15 and that is in strict compliance of the coronavirus precautionary measures and preventive protocols.
A — Government staff — civilian and military personnel — assigned to official duties.
B — Employees in Saudi diplomatic and consular missions and attachés abroad, as well as in regional and international organizations, in addition to their families and their companions.
C — Employees in permanent jobs in public, private or non-profit establishments outside the Kingdom, and those who have jobs in companies or commercial establishments outside the Kingdom.
D — Businessmen whose business conditions require travel to finish their commercial and industrial activities, as well as export, marketing and sales managers whose work requires visiting their customers
E — Patients whose treatment requires travel outside the Kingdom, based on medical reports, especially cancer patients and patients in need of organ transplantation.
F — Students on foreign scholarship as well as those who are studying at their own personal expenses; and trainees in medical fellowship programs, whose studies or training require travel to the countries where they pursue study or training, in addition to their companions.
G — Those who have the following humanitarian cases: 1) Family reunion for a male or female citizen with their relatives residing outside the Kingdom. 2) The death of the husband, wife, parent, or child outside the Kingdom.
GCC citizens and expatriates
Gulf citizens, as well as expatriates and their companions who are now residing outside the Kingdom and who have proof of their residence outside the Kingdom are also allowed to enter the Kingdom. They include the following categories:
1 — Participants in regional and international official sporting events, including players and members of technical and administrative staff.
2 — Citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council States will be allowed to enter and exit the Kingdom. Non-Saudis who have exit and reentry visas, work visas, residency permit or visit visas will be allowed to enter the Kingdom provided that their entry is in accordance with the preventive health protocols and procedures set by the committee concerned with taking measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the Kingdom.
The controls include not allowing anyone to enter the territory of the Kingdom, except after submitting evidence that they are free from coronavirus infection based on a report of medical test carried out 48 hours before the moment of arrival in the Kingdom.
3 — There will be a partial lifting of the suspension of international flight service to and from the Kingdom and the opening of land, sea and airports, allowing the exempted groups of citizens and others to enter and leave the Kingdom.
4 — What is stated in these exemptions is without prejudice to any approved requirements or controls related to countries to which entry or exit has been suspended for reasons other than that of combating the spread of coronavirus.
5 — What is stated in these exemptions does not apply to those countries of which the concerned committee decides to take preventive measures by suspending travel to or coming from those countries, due to the outbreak of coronavirus in order to prevent its spread in the Kingdom.
6 — These exemptions will come into force effective from 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 15.
The concerned authorities, each within its jurisdiction, shall issue statements explaining the procedures for implementing the aforementioned exemptions, including the relevant controls and conditions, the ministry source added.
Saudi Gazette report