Saudi Arabia will allow its citizens to exit and re-enter the kingdom through all land, sea, and airports after Jan 1, 2021, assuming that all coronavirus-related precautionary measures are followed, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Sunday.
“The specific date and time for lifting the suspension will be announced 30 days prior to Jan 1, 2021,” the agency said.
“The health ministry may put in place certain preventative health requirements for travellers and carriers during travel, and in the halls of airports, ports, and stations,” SPA added.
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) citizens and some other non-Saudis will be allowed to enter the kingdom with valid work, residency or visit visas, but they must adhere to the coronavirus-related health precautions.
Under this arrangement, some sectors would be allowed to travel, including government officials, diplomats and individuals needing urgent medical attention.
However, umrah visas will not be resumed and umrah travel will not start until the travel ban is fully lifted.
Saudi Arabia banned the entry of umrah pilgrims into Mecca and Madinah, and umrah visa issuance in February, soon after the first Covid-19 positive patient was detected.
That ban, which is still continuing, also saw the Great Mosque of Mecca devoid of umrah pilgrims during Ramadan and also a reduced haj when only 1,000 pilgrims were allowed to perform the annual ritual.
The kingdom will later announce a plan to gradually permit umrah pilgrimage to resume, based on pandemic updates.
The country had banned all international travel in early March as a measure to control the spread of the coronavirus.
The government began re-opening and returning to “normalcy” at the end of May, but international flights remained banned.
Records indicate Saudi Arabia reported 325,651 confirmed coronavirus cases, 302,870 recovered patients, and 4,268 deaths as of Sunday, according to the health ministry.