© ReutersPilgrims arrive at King Abdulaziz International Airport for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, July 17, 2021.
Saudi citizens planning to travel abroad from next month must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry said on Monday.
The new rule takes effect on August 9.
The decision was made based on new waves of infection globally, new mutations, and the "low efficacy of one vaccination dose against these mutations", the ministry said.
Children under the age of 12 will be exempt from the new rules, provided that their travel insurance covers coronavirus-related costs
and is pre-approved by the Saudi Central Bank, the ministry said in a statement released on the Saudi Press Agency.
Those who caught the virus in the past six months and have received their first dose of vaccine are exempt.
The kingdom has approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca-Oxford, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines, with more than 20 million doses administered so far.
The ministry has started to administer the second dose of approved vaccines to all age groups across the country.
Healthcare workers should wear stickers showing their Covid vaccination status, head of Switzerland's Green Liberal Party suggests
Swiss politicians have begun to explore ways to "incentivize" vaccine uptake, citing a decrease in the number of people lining up for the shot. Around 43% of Switzerland's population is fully vaccinated, while 52% have received at least one dose of the drug. However, it appears the other half of the country is not in any rush to roll up its sleeves.
© REUTERS/Denis BalibouseHealthcare workers at La Tour Hospital in Meyrin near Geneva, Switzerland, November 26, 2020.
Juerg Grossen, president of the Green Liberals, told local media that while compulsory vaccination may not be feasible, other methods can be used in an attempt to reduce Covid-19 transmission, particularly in the country's hospitals. According to local news outlet nau.ch, Grossen thinks that people working in hospitals, nursing homes, and similar facilities should be labeled differently based on their vaccination status - perhaps with a "sticker." He argued that such a scheme would make sense in public institutions where individuals may be at risk of infection.
Although in favor of making healthcare workers show their vaccination status, he said he was opposed to forcing them to get the shot, insisting that coercion is "not exactly the Swiss way." The lawmaker also warned that making Covid vaccination a requirement to work in the health sector would have devastating consequences.
"If all the unvaccinated in the healthcare sector have to quit work - then good night," Grossen said, suggesting that a large number of medical workers in the country remain unjabbed.
His opposition to compulsory vaccination was echoed by other Swiss politicians, who had their own ideas about how to increase enthusiasm for the public inoculation campaign.
Ruth Humbel, president of the Federal Assembly's Health Commission, told local media that a compulsory vaccination policy similar to the one introduced in neighboring France would "not be enforceable." Instead, she suggested that those who choose to remain unvaccinated should be treated differently by the healthcare system should there be another "wave" of the virus.
"If the hospitals were again used, the unvaccinated Covid patient would have to stand back," she said.
With France set to introduce a highly divisive scheme requiring proof of vaccination or negative Covid status for many routine activities, neighboring Switzerland has begun to debate the merits of adopting similarly aggressive measures. The country already has a digital Covid certificate system, but it's only required in certain situations, such as in order to attend a large concert. Grossen has suggested that the health ID should become mandatory for smaller venues in order to push more of his countrymen to get vaccinated, particularly young people.
Over the past several months, some activists in the UK, US, and elsewhere who have protested against coercive vaccination programs and other Covid measures have been spotted wearing Star of David patches and other markings as a way to highlight the discriminatory nature of such policies. The practice has been widely criticized as extreme.
UK govt announces booster shots coming, vaccines will be MANDATORY for nightclubs
Monday marked the long-anticipated reopening of England's bars and clubs, and the dropping of most of the coronavirus restrictions that had been in place since last year. However, the government will soon make vaccination mandatory to enter these establishments, Zahawi announced on Monday.
"Vaccination holds the key for doing the things we love," he told Parliament. "We plan to make full vaccination a condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather. Proof of a negative test will no longer be sufficient."
By September, Zahawi stated, every adult in the UK will have been given the opportunity to get fully vaccinated.
Zahawi had a different opinion on so-called 'vaccine passports' only a few months ago. Back in February he called such passes "discriminatory," and told the BBC: "That's not how we do things. We do them by consent."
In a BBC appearance shortly after Zahawi's speech, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the vaccination-only policy official, repeating the minister's words verbatim.
With the efficacy of vaccines against the more contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus being questioned in some countries, Zahawi also told lawmakers that the government is drawing up plans to administer vaccine booster shots. Trials for such shots are already underway, and before his resignation last month, then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that a nationwide programme of booster jabs will likely be rolled out in autumn.
For the moment, children will be exempt from vaccination unless they suffer from pre-existing conditions, Zahawi said on Monday.
"We will be offering even more vulnerable people the protection that a vaccine brings and we will all be safer as a result," he said, after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation released new guidance stating that only children with severe neurodisabilities, Down's syndrome, immunosuppression, and profound and multiple learning disabilities will be given the jab.
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