COVID-19 Travel Info

Clarification on Travel Restrictions to Oman during the Corona Virus Outbreak

This article is part of our coverage on COVID-19 updates and travel restrictions in Oman, please check the main page for latest updates as the information below may already be superseded.

The Corona Virus (COVID-19) disease has been spreading around the world over the past weeks, resulting in thousands of people being infected and many victims around the world. This has obviously affected global travel with many countries in lock-down or issuing travel restrictions to control the spread of this now global pandemic!

New measures issued on 15 March 2020 as announced by Oman’s Government Communication Channel on Twitter) is the suspension of entry to Oman to everyone except Omani and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Nationals:

Oman’s Government Communication Channel (@Oman_GC) on Twitter

In addition, anyone entering Oman (Omanis and GCC Nationals) will be subject to a mandatory 14-day medical quarantine. Statement by the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA), and their responses on Twitter in Arabic, clarified that non-Omani residents return to Oman but shall also be subject to the medical quarantine.

Oman has announced measures to control the spread on Corona Virus on Thursday 12-March, one of the measure being the suspension of issuing tourist visas as of 15 March 2020 for a period of 30 days. There has been some confusion among travelers on the impact this will have on them, especially with regards to people who already have their travels planned. Late Friday 13-March, there has been official statements from the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explaining the situation (links to statements on their official twitter accounts here and here).

I thought it is worthwhile explaining the situation in simple text for clarity:

  • If you are visiting Oman and don’t have your tourist visa before 15 March in hand, you will not be issued the visa and you will not be able to enter Oman even if you have your travels booked. Presumably, you will be able to receive a visa after the 30 days suspension ends (on 15 April 2020, unless the suspension gets extended)
  • If you have already received a valid tourist visa before 15-March, you should be able to travel to Oman as long as you are not, nor have you recently visited, the following five countries affected by Corona Virus: China, Egypt, Italy, Iran and South Korea.
  • Even if you have a valid visitor visa, and you are not from (nor have you visited) the five countries above, expect to only be allowed entry “after fulfillment the requirements of medical tests and examinations to confirm they were not positive to the Corona virus..” (quoting straight from the official statement) – it is not clear to me what these tests or examinations will entail but presumably as a minimum it will be to check your temperature and for any symptoms.
  • The above restriction apply for all travel corridors – so no tourist visas will be issued even at land border crossings with the UAE.
  • The suspension of visiting visas is specifically for tourism, there is no mention of suspension of business travel visas, so far! So, it is presumed that you will be able to apply and receive business visa to Oman even after 15-March, but the requirements and controls on that are still not clear.
  • No cruise ships for tourism will be able to dock in Oman’s ports for 30 days period, starting 15-March

My personal take on this is that you should strongly consider postponing your travel to Oman, even if you are eligible to travel and have a valid visitor visa. This is because the situation is rapidly changing globally, and many countries are suspending flights etc.

The human toll of the Corona virus pandemic is terrible (just look at the situation in Italy, Iran, etc.) and it is important to stay safe and ready in such a situation. Obviously the impact on travel industry is bad, and tourism in Oman will suffer just like the rest of the world (I have to cancel at least 2 confirmed trips due to this personally) – but it is all relative to the big picture!

Stay safe, wash your hands and don’t accidentally touch your face!

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