SAUDI Arabia has lifted its ban on direct flights to Nigeria and 16 other African nations which was introduced on December 8 last year in response to the discovery of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 in South Africa.
Like many other countries worldwide, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia clamped down hard on Africa once the Omicron strain was associated with the continent. Among the countries from which direct flights were barred included South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique, Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia, Madagascar, Angola, Seychelles, the United Republic of Comoros, Ethiopia and Afghanistan.
With the coronavirus pandemic now clearing up, Saudi Arabia has scrapped most of the restrictions and has ended social distancing at all mosques in the kingdom, although it has continued to enforce the wearing of facemasks. Saudi Arabia said it no longer requires travellers to undergo mandatory Covid-19 quarantine upon arrival and passengers would also no longer need to provide a PCR test.
Among other things, the kingdom has also lifted the outdoor mask and social distancing mandates. These were contained in the Saudi Gazette Report, which highlighted the fact that the most of the coronavirus restrictions in the country, were lifted as of yesterday.
It read: “Saudi Arabia will also end social distancing in the two holy mosques and all the mosques in the kingdom but worshippers still have to wear masks. It is not mandatory to wear masks at open places but is required to wear masks indoors.
“The new decisions announced by an official source at the Ministry of Interior will come into force starting from Saturday, March 5, 2022. It also suspended social distancing measures at all closed and open spaces, activities and events.
“Also the country will no longer require travellers to undergo mandatory Covid-19 quarantine upon arrival to the kingdom. Passengers will also no longer need to provide a PCR test upon their arrival.”
However all arrivals to Saudi Arabia on visit visas of all kinds are required to get insurance that covers the costs of treatment from coronavirus infection. This will no doubt push up the cost of hajj pilgrimages.