Saudi Arabia has placed a temporary ban on Umrah pilgrims in an attempt to ensure public safety by preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Many international pilgrims also visit the Mosque of the Prophet in Madinah before or after they have fulfilled their religious duties in Makkah, this has also been halted.
The kingdom, which hosts millions of pilgrims every year in the cities of Makkah and Madinah, also suspended visas for tourists from countries with reported infections as fears of a pandemic deepen. However, Saudi nationals and residents of the Gulf Cooperation Council nations will not officially be able to use a national identity card to travel to and from the Kingdom. Exceptions to this shall be granted to Saudis returning home and to citizens of GCC countries who are in the Kingdom and wish to return to their home country, provided they have left or entered the Kingdom using a national identification card.
Health authorities at entry points will verify which countries travelers visited before arriving in Saudi Arabia and apply all necessary precautionary measures. Saudi officials emphasised that the restrictions are temporary, and the health authorities will continue to monitor them. We affirmed the support and implementation of the Kingdom’s international efforts to limit the spread of the virus, and the Foreign Ministry advised people not to fly to coronavirus-affected countries.