Saudi Arabia says ‘no quarantine for vaccinated travellers’

All those travelling to Saudi Arabia, both nationals and foreigners, who have had two doses of a vaccine approved in the kingdom will be able to enter with no period of quarantine from Monday as long as they meet the criteria, authorities said hours before borders reopened after 14 months.

The Saudi National Centre for Disease Control and Prevention clarified the measures as the kingdom reopened its borders on Monday, more than a year after closing down travel due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Saudia Airlines said that residents and nationals must ensure their vaccine status is updated in the government’s Tawakkalna application. They said all other travellers to the kingdom must “obtain and show proof” of two doses of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca or Moderna, or one from Johnson & Johnson.

Non-nationals must carry the proof of vaccination with them at all times while in the kingdom.

People travelling to the kingdom after only one shot or just a negative PCR test must complete seven days of quarantine at their own expense.

“Institutional quarantine will be applied for non-citizens arriving in the kingdom who are yet to take two doses of the vaccines approved by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the disease control centre said.

“The quarantine will not be applied to the immune residents and visitors coming to the kingdom from abroad who have spent 14 days since completing their doses of the vaccines accredited by the kingdom [provided they show a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours]”.

The Interior Ministry said GCC nationals need to travel on their passports as using national ID cards is still suspended.

All non-nationals, residents or GCC nationals who travel to the kingdom must have health insurance to cover the cost of Covid-19 treatment in case of infection while in Saudi Arabia.

The quarantine-free travel does not apply to arrivals from countries where high-risk variants have been detected.

Entry is still banned for non-nationals travelling from the United Arab Emirates, Germany, the US, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, the UK, Turkey, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Lebanon, Egypt, India and Japan.

Those in the kingdom can now travel abroad, provided they have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, or one dose more than 14 days before travelling, according to guidelines posted by Saudia Airline.

Citizens who have recovered from coronavirus within the last six months and those under 18 can also leave the country as long as they have central bank-accredited health insurance to cover treatment for Covid-19.

The Interior Ministry on Sunday reinstated a ban on nationals travelling directly or indirectly to 13 countries without specific permission.

Travel to Afghanistan, Armenia, Belarus, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Turkey, Venezuela and Yemen are all banned.

They are no-go zones because of instability or surges in coronavirus cases.

A Civil Aviation spokesman said on Sunday that 385 international flights would depart from nine Saudi airports on May 17.

Both Saudia Airlines and the aviation authority have stated that social distancing, wearing a mask and regular hand sanitising is needed in terminals and on flights. All aircraft are deep cleaned, the airline said.

Saudia Airline said “no empty seats will be left among passengers on international flights”.

Saudi Arabia has administered more than 11.5 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, the Ministry of Health reported on Sunday, adding that 2,406 doses of the vaccine were given in the past 24 hours.

The ministry said penalties would apply to all those who breach health and safety protocols.

“The penalty for non-Saudis who violate isolation procedures is deportation from the kingdom and prevention of entry to it in the future,” the ministry said.

“Whoever violates the isolation procedures will be punished with a fine of up to 200,000 riyals [$53,325] or imprisonment for a period of up to two years, or both.”

Saudi Arabia confirmed 15 Covid-19 deaths and 825 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday.

The total number of recoveries in the kingdom has reached 417,787 and 7,162 deaths have been reported so far.