Following a continuous decline in new cases, Saudi Arabia has eliminated most of its remaining Covid-19 restrictions on social distancing and travel, as well as a ban on flights to and from 17 countries.
Social distance regulations have been abolished in both indoor and outdoor venues, as well as during events, according to the most recent update, however masks are still needed in indoor spaces. Covid-19 travel regulations have also been relaxed in Saudi Arabia, with PCR and rapid antigen tests, as well as institutional and home quarantine, no longer being required for visitors.
Direct flights to and from a number of African and Asian countries have been resumed. Flights to and from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and Swaziland, as well as flights to and from Malawi, Zambia, Madagascar, Angola, the Seychelles, Mauritius, Comoros, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan, were all banned in late November following the emergence of a more infectious Omicron variant.
The relaxation of Covid regulations is expected to enhance transportation fuel consumption in the country in the coming months, especially ahead of the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage, which begins in early July. Due to the pandemic, Saudi Arabia decided not allow international pilgrims to visit the country during Hajj in 2020 and 2021.
Meanwhile, the Saudi government has yet to issue guidelines for this year’s Hajj, but the gradual relaxation of restrictions and dramatic drop in case numbers since the middle of January should help things return to normal. According to Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Statistics, more over 2.4 million pilgrims conducted Hajj in Saudi Arabia in 2019, with 70% coming from outside the country.
During the first week of March, Covid-19 cases averaged 398 each day, down significantly from a daily average of 3,675 in February and 1,849 in January.