RIYADH — Saudi Arabia has decided to extend the temporary measures of shutting its borders and suspension of international flights introduced last Sunday (20-12-2020) for another week in a bid to contain the spread of the new strain of the coronavirus while continuing to assess the situation and to ensure safety of citizens and expatriates.
Saudi Arabia had suspended all international commercial flights for a week amid reports of the appearance of a new mutated strain of coronavirus in a number of European countries. The Kingdom had also decided to close its land and sea borders.
The suspension of international travel except for emergency cases, which is part of the precautionary measures seeking to ensure the health and safety of citizens, was imposed with a condition that it could be extended by one more week.
An official source at the Ministry of Interior, late Sunday, stated that, in reference to the statement issued on 20/12/2020, regarding the spread of a new strain of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in a number of countries, and the precautionary measures decided in this regard, the government has decided to extend the aforementioned measures for another week.
The source said, Saudi Arabia will continue to assess the situation, ensuring safety of citizens and expatriates, with an emphasis on excluding the movement of goods, commodities and supply chains, as well as allowing the departure of non-Saudis through flights, according to the precautionary measures adopted by the Ministry of Health.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) had earlier in the day directed airlines operating in Kingdom to transport non-Saudi passengers outside the Kingdom, and that is in total compliance with the precautionary measures to stem the spread of coronavirus.
GACA gave permission to foreign airlines to operate charter flights for this purpose on the condition that the crew of a landing plane at the Kingdom’s airports do not leave their plane, and that they do not physically have contact with the ground/operation staff of the arrival airport.
The authority clarified that these instructions do not include the countries where the new mutated strain of coronavirus has appeared and that is in accordance with the decision of the competent health authorities. GACA also instructed that the airlines must coordinate with the Air Transport Department about this before applying for flights.