Worshippers perform the dawn prayer at the Kaaba in Mecca's Grand Mosque on March 6 2022 after social distancing measures were dropped. (SPA)


Saudi Arabia drops most COVID-19 restrictions

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Saudi Arabia has dropped most of its COVID-19 restrictions including an outdoor mask mandate, according to the Ministry of Interior quoted by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

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Social distancing is also no longer required in any areas including the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.

People in Saudi Arabia are still required to wear masks in indoor places, according to SPA.

The Kingdom has also dropped the requirement for travelers to present a negative PCR or rapid antigen test on arrival.

People entering the country no longer have to quarantine, although health insurance is still required.

A flight ban on travelers from several countries has also been lifted.

These include: South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi, Mauritius, Zambia, Madagascar, Angola, Seychelles, Comoros, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan.

Worshippers performed dawn prayers without social distancing at Mecca’s Grand Mosque on Sunday for the first time since COVID-19 measures were re-introduced on December 30.

Social distancing at Islam’s holiest site was introduced at the beginning of the pandemic and initially dropped in October of 2021.

Restrictions were reintroduced as cases rose following the detection of the first case of the omicron variant in December.

The easing of restrictions comes as daily COVID-19 case numbers continues to fall after a spike in mid-January.

On January 19 daily case numbers in Saudi Arabia reached an all-time-high of 5,928 as the omicron variant spread worldwide.

Case numbers fell in the following weeks, and the country recorded 283 on Saturday.

The Ministry of Interior credited the dropping of COVID-19 rules to high rates of immunity and inoculation.

Enough COVID-19 vaccine shots have been administered to inoculate 87 percent of the population with two doses, according to Reuters.

An ‘immune’ Tawakkalna contact-tracing app status is still required to enter public places and use public transportation.

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