One of the World’s Strictest COVID-19 Vaccine Passport Mandates Announced in Saudi Arabia

Unvaccinated individuals to be banned from nearly all public spaces
July 22, 2021 Updated: July 22, 2021

Saudi Arabia announced possibly the strictest COVID-19-related restrictions in the world and will ban unvaccinated individuals from nearly all public spaces.

The Saudi Kingdom’s Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs announced this week that starting Aug. 1, unvaccinated people cannot enter malls, shopping areas, markets, and retail stores.

Individuals will also have to show proof of vaccination to be allowed into restaurants, weddings, parties, cafes, barbershops, salons, and other establishments.

“In continuation of the ministry’s efforts to protect the public’s health, it is required to vaccinate workers and visitors [who work in or will enter] a number of municipal establishments,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry also said earlier this week that Saudi citizens will have to take two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine before traveling outside the country. The requirement won’t be applied to children under the age of 12, said the interior ministry, according to Al Arabiya TV.

The state-run Saudi Press Agency said that the recent announcements came “in light of the spread of new variants of the virus, the low effectiveness of a single dose of the vaccine against those new variants, and based on studies and scientific research, which show that receiving two doses will protect against complications of the virus variants,” reported Al Arabiya TV.

Saudi Arabia currently authorizes the use of the Moderna and Pfizer mRNA vaccines, as well as AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

So far, about 41 percent of Saudis have received at least one vaccine dose, and some 12 percent have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, says the Oxford University-based Our World in Data.

In the United States, vaccine passport-type systems like the one Saudi Arabia is going to use have been flagged as a potential violation of individuals’ right to privacy. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and some Republicans have said that vaccine passports can create a bevy of problems, including creating a two-tiered society that’s comprised of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

Some U.S. states led by GOP governors have also barred vaccine passport-type systems at various levels. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this year, for example, signed a bill that prohibits such systems from being used by private entities, not just state government offices and agencies.

The White House, in public comments, has not pushed for a federal vaccination mandate, although press secretary Jen Psaki last month suggested that private companies use passport systems.

COVID-19 is the illness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.