Saudi Arabia has announced it will reopen its borders and resume international flights after a two-week suspension aimed at containing the spread of the new COVID-19 strain.
The kingdom ordered the lifting of “precautionary measures related to the spread of a new variant of coronavirus,” the ministry of interior said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency on Sunday.
Authorities in the kingdom have to date recorded more than 363,000 cases, including at least 6,200 deaths – the highest among Gulf Arab states. But the country has also reported a high recovery rate.
Riyadh suspended international flights and access through land crossings and ports on December 21.
Other Gulf countries, Oman and Kuwait, who had taken similar measures, have also lifted them in recent days.
But travellers returning from Britain, South Africa or “any country where the new variant of the coronavirus is spreading” are subject to more restrictions, the statement added.
Foreigners coming from those countries must spend 14 days in another country before entering Saudi Arabia, and show a negative test.
Saudi nationals returning from those countries will be able to enter directly, but must then spend two weeks in quarantine on arrival and be subject to tests.
Last month, Saudi Arabia was one of the first Gulf countries to launch a nationwide inoculation campaign using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.