As part of the worldwide response to the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, restrictions are now in place preventing citizens of foreign countries from traveling to Oman on a tourist visa.
The suspension is expected to be a short-term measure implemented to aid containment efforts, and it is hoped that all restrictions will be lifted once the disease is under control.
The number of people affected in Oman itself remains low, with the introduction of visa restrictions and other measures such as self-quarantine, it is hoped that the figures will remain controlled.
Countries Affected by the Oman Visa Halt
The issuance of all tourist visas to foreigners has been paused temporarily, starting from March 15th, 2020. The decision was made by the Supreme Committee appointed by His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik specifically to focus on effective measures against COVID-19.
Moreover, all cruise ships will be prevented from entering Omani ports until further notice.
Previously, citizens of just 4 states had been temporarily unable to enter Oman:
- South Korea
What do Oman visa restrictions mean for travelers?
Under normal circumstances, citizens of several countries would be eligible for the Oman eVisa which is applied for online.
However, it’s now impossible to obtain a visa for tourist purposes and other visas are also expected to be limited.
In addition, visas granted before the introduction of the ban are invalid and cannot be used.
Once COVID-19 has been controlled and normality resumes, people from eligible countries will once again be able to benefit from Oman’s online program.
Exceptional tourist visa extensions as a result of COVID-19
It was announced on June 11th, 2020 that tourist visas issued between March 1st and August 31st, 2020 would be extended until March 2021.
This special Oman visa extension means that travelers who have been unable to make use of their visas because of the current situation will have until early next year to do so.
The measure is also expected to encourage tourists to apply for an Oman visa once international travel resumes.
Other Measures in Place Against Coronavirus
The Omani government takes the safety of its citizens and those visiting the country extremely seriously. That is the number one priority behind the temporary visa suspension.
Besides pausing tourist visas and keeping cruise ships outside of Omani ports, the committee also decided to:
- Close customer-facing services in both public and private sectors, encourage electronic alternatives
- Shut mosques and other places of worship
- Suspend social gatherings including weddings and other events
- Travelers required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival
The committee advised all Omani citizens against traveling outside the Sultanate unless strictly necessary. Omanis are also invited to stay home and pay special attention during religious and family gatherings.
Traveling to Oman During the Coronavirus Outbreak
Although the visa suspension applies to all tourist visas, some foreigners may already be in Oman or need to travel there under a different visa.
As this is a developing situation, travelers across the world should exercise caution and follow official advice to help with the international effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.
First and foremost, people ought to seek medical attention immediately if they feel unwell with flu-like symptoms such as coughing and sneezing, a sore throat, fever or difficulty breathing.
Individuals who believe they may have been affected should avoid contact with others to avoid passing the illness to more vulnerable members of society, such as the elderly.
The chances of being affected by the virus in Oman are slim but it is important to abide by standard recommendations to avoid catching or spreading the disease:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing and coughing
- Use hand sanitizer gel when soap and water is not available
- Avoid contact with sick people
Experts across the world are continuing to work on a cure for this new strain of Coronavirus and the hope is that, with measures such as those being taken by the Omani government, the disease will be brought under control.