Saudi Arabia on Monday lifted coronavirus-related travel restrictions on its citizens traveling to Turkey, India, Ethiopia and Vietnam, state news agency SPA reported.
Last month, Saudi Arabia banned its citizens from traveling to 16 countries due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The list included Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Indonesia, Vietnam, Armenia, Belarus and Venezuela.
Earlier this month, the kingdom lifted measures imposed to prevent the spread of the virus, including the requirement to wear face masks indoors.
More recently, would-be Turkish pilgrims set out for the Muslim pilgrimage known as the hajj which took place in Saudi Arabia after two years of disruption.
After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, Saudi Arabia has opened up to pilgrims from around the world.
Due to quotas imposed by Saudi Arabia, all countries can only send a certain number of pilgrims each year. This year, 37,770 people from Turkey will be on the hajj.
Saudi Arabia will allow up to 1 million people to join the hajj pilgrimage this year, dramatically expanding the key event to participants from outside the kingdom after two years of strict COVID-19 restrictions. Pilgrims to Mecca this year must be under the age of 65 and fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said in a statement carried by the SPA news agency. Foreign participants will be allowed this year but must present a recent negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and health precautions will be observed, he said.
Last year, the kingdom limited the annual hajj, one of the five main pillars of Islam, to 60,000 domestic participants, down from 2.5 million before the pandemic.
The hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, obligatory for any able-bodied Muslim who can afford it. It is a series of rituals that reach their climax in Qurban Bayram (Eid al-Adha), which will begin the second week of July this year according to the Islamic calendar.