Gulf kingdom’s interior ministry says ‘temporary suspension’ will begin from Feb. 3
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday barred the entry of travelers from 20 countries, including Pakistan, to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
Announcing the “temporary suspension,” the Gulf kingdom’s interior ministry said that it would be effective from 9 p.m. Wednesday (today). It did not provide any end-date for the restrictions. The restrictions would not apply to diplomats, Saudi citizens, medical practitioners, and their families, the SPA added.
In addition to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has also banned inbound travel from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Turkey, Britain, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.S., Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Japan, and South Africa.
According to letters sent to relevant foreign ministries in the countries affected, the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia said that the ban would also apply on anyone who had passed through the listed states within 14 days prior to requesting entry to the kingdom. “However, the kingdom would like to ensure uninterrupted supply chains and shipping movement between the kingdom and these countries in accordance with the precautionary measures determined by the Saudi Ministry of Health,” it said.
The letter stressed that individuals exempt from the ban would need to follow the precautionary measures and SOPs adopted by the Saudi Ministry of Health upon their arrival, including mandatory quarantines.
A similar ban was enacted in December following reports of the spread of a new, more infectious strain that originated in the U.K. At the time, the Saudi Press Agency had said that any inbound travelers from countries that had detected the new strain after Dec. 8 would be required to self-isolate for two weeks, and submit to a coronavirus test every five days.
The Gulf kingdom has also postponed until May 17 an end to a ban on travel for its citizens.
The latest restriction come within days of Saudi health minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah warning that new restrictions could be imposed if citizens and residents do not comply with government-issued restrictions.