Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Saudi authorities impose a 24-hour curfew in several cities and governorates including the capital Riyadh from April 6 until further notice.

This alert affects Saudi Arabia

This alert began 06 Apr 2020 20:18 GMT and is scheduled to expire 06 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Movement restrictions, transport and business disruptions, increased security

Summary
Saudi authorities imposed a 24-hour curfew on the cities of Riyadh, Tabuk, Dammam, Dhahran, and Hofuf as well as the governorates of Jeddah, Taif, Qatif, and Khobar from April 6 until further notice to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Authorities previously imposed a 24-hour citywide curfew on Mecca and Medina effective April 2 until further notice. Entry and exit to and from these areas are banned. Members of the country's security establishment, healthcare workers, and other essential individuals are exempt from the curfew. Residents in these areas are only permitted to leave their homes for groceries, medical needs, and other essentials from 0600-1500 daily.

Previously enacted restrictions in Saudi Arabia include:

  • Unless otherwise stated, a 1900-0600 curfew is in effect nationwide until at least April 13. Residents will be permitted to leave their residences for essential services only.

 

  • Authorities announced March 29 that they indefinitely extended the suspension of international and domestic passenger flights, public transportation, including buses, taxis, and trains, and workplace attendance in nonessential public and private sectors. The measures do not apply to transport associated with vital sectors, including health, cargo, and energy;
  • Authorities previously barred domestic travel in and out of all of 13 provinces, as well as the cities of Riyadh, Mecca, and Medina, from March 26. Essential workers in some public and private sectors are excluded from the order;
  • Authorities have shut down universities and religious schools nationwide. The King Fahd Causeway, linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, remains temporarily closed; it is unclear when it will reopen. Land border crossings with Kuwait, Yemen, and the UAE remain closed until further notice. The closures do not apply to commercial transport.


Authorities could introduce further restrictive measures relating to the COVID-19 pandemic with little warning; such measures could be ambiguous and occasionally contradictory.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int

Saudi Ministry of Health: www.moh.gov.sa

Saudi Ministry of Interior: www.moi.gov.sa

Saudi Ministry of Interior's Announcement: https://twitter.com/MOISaudiArabia/status/1247237019132141568