Saudi Arabia suspends Umrah for domestic pilgrims

March 04, 2020
Saudi Arabia has suspended temporarily on Wednesday Umrah pilgrimage for Saudi citizens and expatriates in the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia has suspended temporarily on Wednesday Umrah pilgrimage for Saudi citizens and expatriates in the Kingdom.

Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia has suspended temporarily on Wednesday Umrah pilgrimage for Saudi citizens and expatriates in the Kingdom. According to a statement of the official source at the Ministry of Interior, the decision was taken in line with recommendation of the committee concerned with following up the developments of the situation of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the Kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The concerned authorities would continuously review the decision and will withdraw whenever it found that the reasons for the suspension were disappeared, the statement said.

The Interior Ministry spokesman attributed the preventive measures to the keenness of the Saudi government to support global efforts, especially by the international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) to stop the spread of the virus.

“Suspension of Umrah pilgrimage for domestic pilgrims is as an extension of the government’s decision to suspend temporarily entry of pilgrims for the purposes of Umrah and visit of the Prophet’s Mosque from outside the Kingdom, as well as to suspend tourist visas for people from countries where the spread of the novel coronavirus is dangerous,” the statement pointed out.

The spokesman said this decision is part of the preventive measures that the government has consistently taken to limit the spread of the epidemic and prevent its access to the Two Holy Mosques, which are witnessing a permanent huge flow of pilgrims.

It also comes in line with the precautionary measures taken by Saudi authorities to prevent the spread of the virus into the Kingdom and to complement the efforts that have been taken to ensure maximum safety of citizens and expatriates, the statement added.

The first case of COVID-19 was reported in Saudi Arabia on Monday. The Ministry of Health announced the detection of the first coronavirus case of a Saudi national traveling from Iran to the Kingdom through Bahrain.

As part of the precautionary measures, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had suspended temporarily Umrah visas for all countries and tourism visas for 22 countries effective from last Thursday. The authorities have clarified that passengers holding employment visa, work visit visa, business visit visa and family visit visa are exempted from the travel restrictions.

The Council of Ministers on Tuesday emphasized that the precautionary measures that the Kingdom has taken against Coronavirus to ensure maximum safety of citizens, expatriates as well as pilgrims and visitors.

“The measures were taken in order to complement the efforts aimed at providing the utmost protection to the safety of citizens, residents and all those coming to the Kingdom’s territories to perform Umrah, visiting the Prophet’s Mosque or for tourism,” the Council said in a statement.

The Cabinet also hailed the efforts made by the Ministry of Health in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior, the Civil Aviation Authority and other government agencies to contain the virus, follow up on any economic repercussions and make the necessary arrangements to deal with it.

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