Saudi Arabia suspends entry for Mecca, Umrah and tourism from Coronavirus-hit countries

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Riyadh – Saudi government on Thursday temporarily suspended the entry of foreign tourists and pilgrims from visiting the Kingdom for Umrah and tourism purposes from the countries where the new coronavirus has spread.

According to a statement released by Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the suspensions are temporary, but the ministry has not given any timeframe of its expiry. It’s still unclear if this suspension would impact the Haj pilgrimage which is scheduled in late July.

The suspension of entry also includes the Prophet’s mosque in Medina where the pilgrims visit after performing Umrah.

Despite Saudi Arabia’s Health Minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah confirmed on Wednesday that there are no cases of coronavirus in the Kingdom, but it’s spreading in some of its neighboring countries where the Iranian visitors have arrived recently carrying the virus on them.

The ministry however has not specified the countries whose visitors will be impacted but said that the kingdom’s health authorities would determine where the outbreak constituted a danger.

Al-Arabiya reported some of the exceptions of the suspension which include Saudis who are abroad and wish to return home if their exit from the Kingdom was with the national identity card, and citizens of the GCC countries currently inside the Kingdom who are willing to return to their countries if their entry was with their national identity card.

This will allow the Saudi border authorities to verify from which countries visitors came before their arrival to the Kingdom and apply health precautions to deal with those coming from those countries.

The ministry affirmed that these procedures are temporary, and are subjected to continuous evaluation by the authorities.