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Saudi nationals who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot a minimum two weeks prior to travel, those who have recovered from the coronavirus disease within the last six months, and those under 18 will be allowed to travel for the first time since March 2020. Image Credit: REUTERS

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia will lift the travel ban which was imposed last year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic from Monday, with authorities saying that they were ready to operate international flights at full capacity.

In an announcement on Sunday, the Interior Ministry announced that May 17 will mark the full opening of all borders, air, land, and sea, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The Kingdom will allow people who received COVID-19 vaccines to travel along with those who recovered from infection in less than six months, it said. Citizens below 18 can travel if they have health insurance policy that covers coronavirus-related risks.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia will impose institutional quarantine on arriving passengers starting from May 20, the Ministry announcemed. The decision was based on the recommendations by the competent health authorities.

Some categories of passengers will be excluded from the quarantine, including Saudi citizens, their spouses and children. Along with passengers who received COVID-19 vaccines, official delegations, as well as diplomats and their families residing with them will also be excluded from the institutional quarantine.

But the excluded categories, except for the vaccinated individuals, will be required to undergo home quarantine, with an emphasis on the need to obtain a valid health insurance policy to cover the risks of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian Airlines said in a statement that it has completed preparations to operate flights to 71 destinations from 95 airports, including 28 domestic and 43 international destinations, reports Arab News.

The General Authority of Civil Aviation said that around 385 flights are expected to operate throughout the Kingdom's airports on Monday.

The Interior Ministry however, added that said travel to a number of COVID-affected countries, directly or via another nation, is still banned without prior permission. The countries are India, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Turkey, Armenia, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela and Belarus.