Saudi Arabia resumes international flights, reopens borders

The kingdom closed its borders in December due to the new COVID-19 variant in the United Kingdom. Some restrictions for travelers from the UK remain in place.

al-monitor A Saudi Arabian Airlines Saudia plane is pictured on the tarmac of the Ataturk Airport on April 4, 2019, in Istanbul.  Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images.

Jan 4, 2021

Saudi Arabia has reopened its skies and borders following its closure over the new coronavirus variant.

The kingdom allowed the resumption of international flights and reopened its land and sea borders on Sunday, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

In late December, Saudi Arabia banned flights, closed all of its borders and also suspended the Muslim umrah pilgrimage after reports emerged of a new, highly contagious COVID-19 variant in the United Kingdom. Elsewhere in the region, Iraq also instituted new restrictions to combat the variant, and it was detected in Israel.

Saudi authorities are maintaining some restrictions in light of the new strain. Anyone coming from the United Kingdom or South Africa must spend 14 days outside of those countries and provide a negative COVID-19 test before entering Saudi Arabia, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

South Africa also reportedly has a new strain of the virus.

Visitors coming from other countries must adhere to a quarantine of three to seven days and test negative for the virus at its conclusion. The Ministry of Health may also apply the measures for travelers originating in the UK or South Africa to other countries where the virus variant is present, the agency said.

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