Saudi Arabia: Flight restart not applicable to 20 banned countries

Cairo: Saudi Arabia’s national carrier has said that the resumption of international flights from the kingdom, due next month, does not include 20 countries with which flights were banned last February.

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The Saudi Interior Ministry had previously announced a ban on foreigners’ entry into the kingdom from 20 countries starting from February as part of coronavirus-control measures. Diplomats, health workers and their families are exempted from the ban.

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Saudi Arabian airlines added that a halt to international flights will be lifted as of 1am on May 17, but will not apply to the countries with which travel is banned by a state committee tasked with tackling COVID-19 due to the outbreak of the virus, local media reported.

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The 20 countries on the ban list are Argentina, the UAE, France, Germany, the US, Indonesia, India, Japan, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, the UK, Turkey, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Lebanon, and Egypt.

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The ban also includes arrivals from other countries who have transited any of the 20 countries during the 14 days prior to applying to enter Saudi Arabia.

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In February, Saudi authorities also enforced a month-long suspension of entertainment activities, as well as closure of cinemas, indoor entertainment centres and independent indoor games sites or those in restaurants, and shopping malls as well as gyms and sports facilities. Indoor orders at restaurants and coffee shops were suspended for the same duration, with their services confined to takeaway orders.

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The following month, the restrictions were eased, allowing the reopening of cinemas, gyms and sports facilities.

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