Saudi Arabia bars citizens from traveling to nine countries March 9. Additional restrictions possible.

Severity: Informational Alert

This alert began 09 Mar 2020 07:20 GMT and is scheduled to expire 23 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Entry restrictions, health screenings, increased immigration wait times

On March 9, Saudi authorities barred its citizens and residents against travel to nine countries to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The nine countries include Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Lebanon, South Korea, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The restrictions will also prevent anyone who has visited the nine countries in the past 14 days from entering Saudi Arabia. Saudi authorities have also suspended all flights and naval trips, except for evacuation and commercial trade, to and from the nine countries. Authorities stated that the measures are temporary. Officials could introduce additional travel restrictions in the coming days.

Saudi authorities announced March 3 that they are barring citizens and residents of other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations from entering the kingdom for a period of 14 days; however, the measure applies solely to those who have traveled outside the region in the previous two weeks. At the end of the 14 days, Saudi officials will deny travelers from GCC nations from entering the kingdom if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19. Saudi nationals arriving from other GCC countries must inform authorities if they have traveled outside the region in the preceding 14 days.

Previous restrictions on GCC states, including the suspension of using national identity cards instead of passports and the prohibition of GCC citizens traveling to Mecca and Medina, remain in place. Umrah visas for non-GCC nationals seeking travel to Mecca or Medina also remain suspended. Tourist visas for foreign nationals from countries with a high number of COVID-19 cases remain suspended.

Background and Analysis
The travel restrictions come amid the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, which originated in China's Wuhan City in Hubei Province. The purpose of the travel restrictions is to prevent the spread of the disease. The World Health Organization has declared the virus a global health emergency.

Individuals affected by the restrictions should postpone travel to Saudi Arabia. Follow all official immigration and health screening instructions. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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