Saudi Arabia to temporarily suspend entry of GCC citizens to Mecca, Medina

Saudi Arabia will be temporarily suspending the entry of citizens from the Gulf Cooperation Council to the Kingdom’s cities of Mecca and Medina, according to a statement from the foreign ministry.

The Kingdom said an exception would be made for GCC citizens who have been in the Kingdom for 14 consecutive days and have not shown signs of being infected with the coronavirus.

“[Those] who wish to perform Umrah or visit the Prophet’s Mosque can apply through the website of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah (Umrah online course) to obtain a permit during the period of temporary suspension,” the ministry statement read.

Last Thursday, Saudi Arabia temporarily suspended entry for individuals seeking to perform Umrah pilgrimage in Mecca or visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, as well as tourists traveling from countries where the coronavirus poses a risk as determined by the Kingdom’s health authorities.

The Saudi Arabian foreign ministry said the decision to suspend the entry of GCC citizens was based on the recommendations of health authorities to apply the “highest precautionary standards to surround the virus and prevent its spread locally and globally.”

“The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia confirms that it is closely following developments in the spread of the virus and its repercussions on an ongoing basis, and that the precautionary measures are being reviewed according to any new developments, and additional measures shall be taken if the need arises,” the foreign ministry said in its statement.