The Gulf country is one of three to close all borders in light of a new, fast-spreading Covid strain
Residents in Oman who’d made travel plans for this week are finding themselves in a state of limbo, due to the country’s decision to close borders starting Tuesday, after a new strain of coronavirus was reported in the UK, South Africa, Australia and parts of Europe.
State television reported that the country’s land, air and sea borders would be shut for one week starting today at 1am.
Also read: New Covid strain: UAE urges citizens to return before Oman border closure
Some expats in the country had made plans to return home for good under various schemes offered by their countries, as well as the repatriation initiative undertaken by the Ministry of Labour in Oman. However, the recent move is forcing them to put those plans on hold.
Sushil Das is one such expat, who was hoping to leave on December 27 and had booked his tickets with Air India in advance. “I have almost completed my notice period and have made plans to vacate my flat accordingly. I am in touch with my airline, but there seems to be no clear plan right now,” he told Times of Oman.
Travel agents have been swamped with calls from travellers confused over what the decision means for them. They are hopeful that the closure will only last for a week.
Also read: New Covid strain: 3 Gulf countries suspend flights, shut borders
Faiyaz Khan, general manager at hospitality consortium Travel Point, noted that the industry was just beginning to pick up and the country had been expecting a lot of inbound travellers from Asian markets prior to this decision. “All of that has unfortunately ended for now but we hope this is only a short-term measure. Truth be told, this development is not good news, but we understand that the health of people comes first,” he told Times of Oman.