Saudi Arabia has lifted all remaining Covid-19-related travel restrictions.
Visitors are no longer required to show a vaccination certificate or PCR test result on arrival in the kingdom. The government has also scrapped all quarantine requirements.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health announced the changes on Twitter, also citing its reasons for loosening restrictions.
Positive cases of Covid-19 have dropped significantly in the country, to less than 5 per cent, while 99 per cent of the eligible population — those aged 12 and above — have now been vaccinated, according to the ministry.
Saudi Arabia has now removed all precautionary and preventive measures related to Covid-19 across the kingdom. Social-distancing measures in all open and closed spaces have been suspended, and wearing masks is no longer a requirement in open areas.
School children do not have to practise social distancing during assembly, prayer, sports, playtime or lessons and worshippers no longer need to maintain social distancing in mosques — including the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah — although people must continue to wear masks inside the mosques.
The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced that people no longer have to book prayer slots online for the two holy mosques. But pilgrims who want to perform Umrah or pray in the Rawdah — which is considered the heart of the Prophet’s Mosque, close to his tomb — still need to book through the Eatmarna or Tawakkalna apps.
These decisions were based on “the follow-up to the epidemiological situation of coronavirus, the competent health authorities’ feedback, and the progress that has been achieved in combating the pandemic”, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Muslim pilgrims walk around the Kaaba during the minor pilgrimage, known as Umrah, in Makkah after Saudi Arabia eased most Covid-19 restrictions. All photos: AP
Earlier this month, the kingdom also lifted the suspension of direct flights to and from 17 countries, namely: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, eSwatini, Mozambique, Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia, Madagascar, Angola, Seychelles, Comoros, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Afghanistan.
Authorities reminded the public to take the third booster dose and said that the Tawakkalna application is still needed to enter offices, some public and private buildings, airports and public transport vehicles.