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Covid plays spoilsport with expats on leave


With the number of Covid-19 cases growing globally, expatriates on leave are in a hurry to come back to the Sultanate of Oman even if they still have some more days of leave and tickets booked for some scheduled dates.

Most countries had relaxed travel restrictions from September 2021 onwards with fewer Covid cases, but the scenario started changing in the last week of December after a new variant of Covid-19 was found in some African countries. Omicron worked like an alarm bell, and the governments around the world started reimposing safety measures against Covid-19.

Some expatriate workers from the Sultanate of Oman chose to visit their countries after a gap of two years, as almost for two years flights were either not operational or were permitted to carry only passengers with an emergency.

Rakesh Jha, a businessman, went on leave in the last week of November last year and was supposed to come back in mid-January. He, however, decided to advance return journey by 15 days due to news of the rising number of Covid-19 cases.

“I had gone to India with family in November last year and was supposed to come back by January 15, but I decided to come back early keeping in mind lockdowns and suspension of air traffic. I left my family back home and came alone so that my business does not suffer,” he said agreeing with the idea that people should be extra cautious even if they are fully vaccinated.

Taking a lesson from previous waves of Covid-19, those expatriates who are employed in the country do not want to take any chance even if they have to pay extra bucks in rescheduling their tickets.

“I know how so many people suffered during the last two waves. They were stuck for eight to 12 months in India due to several reasons. Even though flights started operating, many did not have proper vaccination or had vaccines that were not approved in the Sultanate of Oman. That is not the case now, but I do not want to take any chance and have decided to come back next week,” said George, who was supposed to be on leave till the end of January.

He admitted to having paid RO 70 extra to reschedule his ticket. He also admitted that there is a panic-like situation among those who are away from their work destinations.

Covid is spreading again. This is forcing people to book tickets at short notice. This is proving to be a costly affair for them as from some destinations, the one-way ticket price is coming at around RO 300. Pre-Covid days same destination had cost between RO 70 and 90.

The uncertainty caused by Covid-19 is forcing many workers to advance their leave calendar and come back to work destinations as early as possible even if they are not sure about suspension of services.

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