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SAUDI UPLIFTS BAN ON DIRECT ENTRY OF COUNTRIES INCLUDING INDIA

Saudi Arabia is now allowing direct entry from six countries including Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Egypt without spending 14-day quarantine in a third country announced on Thursday. The Saudi Press Agency reported, quoting an official source of the Ministry of Interior that the new directive will come into force from 1:00 am on Wednesday, Dec. 1 2021.

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Though they don’t have quarantines in third countries, they are required to spend five days in institutional quarantine, regardless of their immunization status outside the Kingdom, the source said. Brazil and Vietnam are the other countries included in the new list of countries allowed direct entry into the Kingdom. The ministry source said that it will continue applying the exemptions issued earlier with regard to quarantine for some categories of travelers. After Thursday’s decision to allow direct entry from six countries, the remaining countries that are still facing the travel ban are Turkey, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

Earlier on Aug. 24, the Ministry of Interior had issued directives to allow direct entry of fully vaccinated expatriates from countries facing travel ban. It was applicable only to those foreigners who have a valid residency permit (Iqama) and left the Kingdom on exit and reentry visa after taking two doses of vaccine against coronavirus from Saudi Arabia.

Though the suspension of international flight service lifted after one year on May 17, 2021, which had temporarily suspended all international flights from March 15, 2020, following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. It was not applicable to 20 countries due to the coronavirus situation in those countries.

The countries that faced the suspension of travel were Argentina, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, Turkey, South Africa, Lebanon, and Egypt, Germany, the United States, Japan, Ireland, Italy, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Swiss Confederation and France.

It was also instructed that those coming from other countries required 14 days quarantine in a third country if they had passed through any of these 20 countries during the 14 days preceding their application to enter the Kingdom.

Later, new countries of Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Vietnam were added to the list of banned countries. The Saudi authorities eventually lifted travel suspension with all these countries except the remaining four ones.

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