Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Saudi authorities impose 24-hour citywide curfew for Mecca and Medina cities from April 2 until further notice due to COVID-19 activity.

This alert affects Saudi Arabia

This alert began 02 Apr 2020 14:15 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Apr 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 citywide curfew for Mecca and Medina cities effective April 2 until further notice as part of the Kingdom's effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Residents will only be permitted to leave their residences for groceries and medical needs between 0600-1500. Previous restrictions include:

  • Authorities banning the entry and exit into the Jeddah Governorate in Mecca Province from March 29 and imposed new curfew hours of 1500-0700 until further notice.
  • Authorities announced March 29 that the Kingdom has 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 or out of all of the Kingdom's 13 provinces, as well as the cities of Riyadh, Mecca, and Medina, from March 26. Authorities also introduced a daytime 1500-1900 curfew for Riyadh from March 26. A nighttime 1900-0600 curfew is in effect nationwide from March 23 for an initial period of 21 days. Essential workers in some public and private sectors are excluded from the order.
  • Authorities have shut down universities and religious schools nationwide. The King Fahad Causeway, linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, remains temporarily closed; it is unclear when officials will reopen it. Land border crossings with Kuwait, Yemen, and the UAE remain closed until further notice. The closures do not apply to commercial transport.


Officials could introduce further preventive restrictions, depending on the evolution of the disease activity in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
The Kingdom's travel restrictions and preventive measures are similar to actions other governments are taking globally 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/