Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Saudi nationals residing in Kuwait and Bahrain permitted to return to the kingdom via land ports without prior permission starting July 23.
- Alert Begins: 23 Jul 2020 01:41 PM UTC
- Alert Expires: 31 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Transport and business disruptions, increased security
Saudi Arabian nationals currently residing in Bahrain are permitted to return to the kingdom via the King Fahd Causeway without prior permission July 23 amid an easing of restrictions related to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Similarly, Saudi land ports with Kuwait have been opened for Saudi nationals who wish to return without prior permission. All returnees must comply with existing or future preventive measures upon their return to the kingdom.
Previously enacted measures in Saudi Arabia include:
- Authorities allowed the resumption of domestic flights, May 31. All domestic flights will have to comply with safety guidelines established by the relevant authorities before being authorized to operate.
- The suspension of international flights, as well as the closure of land and sea borders to passenger travel, will continue until further notice.
- Land border crossings with Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates remain closed until further notice. Land border crossings with Kuwait and Bahrain remain closed to non-Saudi nationals. The closures do not apply to commercial transport.
- Travel between provinces has resumed.
- Gatherings of more than 50 people are banned until further notice.
- Wearing facemasks is mandatory in public.
- Universities and religious schools remain closed nationwide.
- All economic and commercial activities resumed operations, albeit with public health precautions such as facemasks and social distancing. Work in the public sector has also been allowed to resume. Mosques across the country have been allowed to resume congregational and Friday prayers.
Authorities could reintroduce restrictive measures relating to the COVID-19 pandemic if there is a significant increase in cases; such measures could be ambiguous and occasionally contradictory.
Background and Analysis
The Saudi government's preventive measures are similar to 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.
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.