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COVID-19 and travel outside Saudi Arabia
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 22 - 10 - 2020

The decision to suspend domestic and international flights was one of the many important decisions taken by the Saudi government following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and it helped the Kingdom achieve remarkable success in containing it. It was a right and decisive decision at that time just like what the rest of the world did.
Many countries have now resumed their international flight operations with strict COVID-19 precautionary measures in place. This is because of the fact that the world cannot continue to remain in a state of disruption for long and humans cannot remain locked down indefinitely.
What happened in our case was to grant exemptions for travel abroad for a number of specific groups in accordance with certain definitive conditions. But ever since the announcement of limited travel resumption, many people who have compulsory conditions to travel abroad have not been able to do so.
I am not talking about travel for tourism and recreation. Rather, it is about extreme necessities. It is difficult, for example, to refuse travel to a student who is desperate to enroll in a university outside the Kingdom at his own expense or a patient who has been following the advice of his doctor for a long time and needs to meet him personally or a businessman whose business interests have been disrupted for long or someone who wants to see his children living abroad for study or for family reasons of his own and other family members or people who have other necessities.
And when I talk about this, I do emphasize that I am not relinquishing my responsibility as a doctor and writer. I still call and reiterate the commitment to do everything that would protect our society from the pandemic and maintain the consistency of the success that we have already achieved.
But at the same time, it is possible to make procedures easier for those who have to travel in line with logical conditions. Whoever wants to travel out of necessity can be held responsible for his decision and not to be allowed to return to the Kingdom without the proof that he is free from the disease after carrying out precise and fast coronavirus tests.
The follow-up of a person who is infected and ensuring his compliance with home quarantine is also not a difficult thing. It is easily possible to permit those who have the most compelling situations for travel after setting conditions that guarantee their safety.
But there are constant obstructions and restrictions that resulted in refusing to allow them to travel on the basis of logical justifications, and without explaining why they are being prevented.
On the other hand, others are coming to the Kingdom and travel to any place where they are permitted to travel in accordance with the requirements set by each country.
– The author can be reached at: [email protected] Twitter: @HamoodAbutalib

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