During the months of November and December 2021, the governments of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia announced new precautionary measure to combat the spread of omicron, the new variant of the COVID-19 virus.
On November 27, 2021, the Egyptian prime minister, Mustafa Madbouly, issued a decision to ban all direct flights coming to and from seven African countries: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Travelers to Egypt via indirect flights from these African countries will have to take a rapid coronavirus test on their arrival. Those who test positive will be deported to their countries.
On December 8, 2021, the prime minister issued Resolution No. 1 of 2021, which establishes new measures to combat the spread of omicron. The resolution requires Egyptian citizens to wear a facemask while using public and private transportation. It also prohibits citizens from holding weddings or funerals in closed places.
According to Resolution No. 1 of 2021, the facemask mandate will apply in government buildings and open public places where social distancing cannot be achieved. Additionally, this mandate applies to the following: places of worship, banks, companies, associations, public stores, commercial centers, cinemas, theaters, culture houses, sports and country clubs, youth centers, markets, schools, academic institutes, and universities. The mandate took effect on December 9, 2021.
On December 1, 2021, the Crisis Cell at Jordan’s National Center for Security and Crisis Management announced that extra precautionary measures have been adopted because of the arrival of omicron.
The Crisis Cell is requiring all incoming Jordanians coming from seven African countries to quarantine for two weeks at the hotel airport. The seven countries are the same as those singled out by Egypt: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. The Crisis Cell is also prohibiting Jordanian citizens from traveling to those countries and banning the entrance of foreigners coming from those countries.
In addition, the Jordanian authorities are requiring all incoming individuals to conduct a PCR examination at Queen Alia International Airport on their arrival, with the exception of children under the age of five.
On November 29, 2021, to curb the spread of omicron, the Saudi Ministry of Interior banned travel to and from 14 African countries: Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.On December 1, 2021, Saudi Arabia confirmed its first case of the omicron COVID-19 variant. On December 4, 2021, Saudi authorities announced that, beginning in February 2022, all individuals in the kingdom will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot before they can enter government and private facilities and public events, and use public and private transportation. The Ministry of Health has stipulated that individuals can get the booster shot eight months after receiving their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.