Saudi Arabia to Require Coronavirus Vaccines to Enter Indoor Spaces

Saudis shop at the Panorama Mall in the capital Riyadh on May 22, 2020, as Muslims prepare to celebrate the upcoming Eid al-Fitr, that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)
FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images

Saudi Arabia’s government will require people to prove they have received a Chinese coronavirus vaccination before they are allowed to enter “any governmental, private, or educational establishments” or use public transportation starting August 1, the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported Tuesday.

Chinese coronavirus vaccination will also be a requirement to enter “any social, economic, commercial, cultural, scientific, entertainment or sporting event in Saudi Arabia,” a source at Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry told SPA on March 18, according to al-Arabiya. The source also confirmed to the news site that in-class teaching for students will resume shortly in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi government will use its own “Tawakkalna” smartphone health app “to check the immunization status of citizens and residents” starting August 1, Al Arabiya reported.

The Saudi Ministry of Health together with the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence (SDAIA) held a joint press conference on January 7 in Riyadh to debut a new online “Health Passport” that uses the “Tawakkalna” app to track people’s Chinese coronavirus vaccination status.

The Saudi government will issue the “Health Passport” to people via the “Tawakkalna” smartphone app “within seconds” of completing the recommended two doses of a Chinese coronavirus vaccine, SDAIA President Dr. Abdullah Sharaf said at the press conference.

“The passport will reflect the medical condition of its holder and show ‘immune’ for those who completed the vaccination process,” the Riyadh-based Arab News reported on January 7. The new smartphone feature “will help the authorities identify those who received the [Chinese coronavirus] vaccine,”  Saudi Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq al-Rabia said at the time.

Saudi government officials debuted “Tawakkalna” in May 2020 as a means for the Kingdom to track people’s movement during periods of coronavirus lockdown. Riyadh encouraged Saudi citizens and residents to download the app if they wished to travel outside of their homes during lockdown because government-approved “movement permits” were exclusively issued through “Tawakkalna.”

Foreigners arriving in Saudi Arabia by air from most countries will no longer be required to quarantine upon arrival starting May 20 if they provide proof of having received a Chinese coronavirus vaccination or that they have contracted the disease and recovered, Saudi Arabia’s Civil Aviation Authority (GACA) announced May 16.

“Under the new rules, anyone over the age of eight years old who is not vaccinated must quarantine on arrival in Saudi Arabia for seven days at their own expense as of May 20 and provide a negative PCR [polymerase chain reaction] test on the sixth day of their arrival, GACA said,” according to al-Arabiya.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health reported 1,047 new cases and 14 new deaths from the Chinese coronavirus on May 18.

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