Commercial passenger flights from 24 different countries have been suspended by the Sultanate of Oman. These temporary bans are one of the new anti-COVID-19 measures implemented by the Gulf state.
Flights from India to Oman have been canceled until further notice. The list of countries from which flights to Oman are currently suspended now stands at 24.
Despite the lack of direct flights, it is still possible for holders of a Muscat visa for Indians to visit Oman if they make a stopover in a safe country before continuing to the Sultanate.
Much of Southern Asia has been hit by the flight ban. Bangladesh and Pakistan are also on the list of countries from which flights to Oman are not operating at present.
Some of the countries on the list have had flights suspended since 24 April 2021.
Oman’s official COVID-19 Twitter account tweeted that the cancelations were part of measures to control the spread of coronavirus infections. It said that direct flights from these 24 states would remain suspended until further notice.
As India’s COVID-19 situation continues to improve and measures are taken to prevent a third wave, more and more countries are loosening their travel restrictions for Indian visitors.
However, the number of new cases recorded daily in Oman is still relatively high (around 1,000 per day on average), despite the numbers falling since the peak of its most recent wave of infections. Active coronavirus cases are still higher than in previous waves.
For these reasons, there are still many travel restrictions in place, as well as anti-COVID-19 measures in the country itself.
Although Indian nationals are not explicitly banned from entering Oman, it is now more difficult, since it is not possible to fly directly. In addition, individuals who have recently spent time in India are prohibited from entering the Gulf nation.
In fact, anyone who has been in India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh within 2 weeks before traveling to Oman is not allowed to enter under the present restrictions.
This means that to visit the Sultanate, residents of India must fly to a “safe” country, such as the Maldives, stay for 14 days, and then fly onward to Oman.
Luckily, Omani travel agents are now offering holiday packages to cater for such trips. These include a hotel for the stopover and a PCR test, in addition to the flights.
The Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has expressed its hope that other nations would loosen restrictions on travel from India since the country’s pandemic situation has “vastly improved” and continues to see the number of infections fall.
The MEA has also said that it is raising the matter with partners around the world, including authorities in the Gulf region.
In addition to India, passenger services from 23 other sovereign states to Oman have also been suspended indefinitely. Some of these flight suspensions have been in effect for some time before the latest additions. The most recent expansion has added a number of nations in Southern Asia to the list.
The 24 countries from which flights to Oman are temporarily suspended are:
- The Philippines
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- The United Kingdom
Travelers who have been in the majority of the above countries within the last 2 weeks are also prohibited from entering Oman. This applies to those who have spent time in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. At present, vaccinated individuals are not exempt from this travel ban.
While residents of India can get to Oman after a 2-week stopover in a “safe” country, Indian nationals living abroad will likely have a much easier time visiting the Sultanate. However, there are still certain rules that must be followed.
In addition to flight suspensions and travel bans on those who have recently been in certain countries, Oman has a number of other travel restrictions in place.
Most travelers who are allowed to enter Oman will have to take a PCR test in the days leading up to the trip. They must test negative and bring the result (in Arabic of English) as proof.
Children under 16 years of age do not need to take a test.
It is also necessary to complete an online form prior to traveling and pay a fee for another COVID test on arrival.
Passengers should also reserve a room in a hotel, take out insurance that will cover any COVID-19 expenses for at least one month, and download 2 apps (Tarassud+ and Hmushrif).
Visitors should also be aware that the visa on arrival service in Oman is not currently operating, but that it is possible to get a visa online instead.
As the coronavirus situation in both India and Oman improves, it is likely that many of these travel restrictions will be relaxed. Relations between the two countries continue to be strong, with military and maritime cooperation. It is expected that the Gulf state will restart flights from India in the near future, enabling easier access.