By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Saudia will continue to operate flights from Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport through Friday, March 13
Saudi Arabia has temporarily halted the travel of its citizens and residents and halted flights to the European Union and a number of countries as a response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to the state-run Saudi Press Agency.
The decision applies to the European Union, India, Switzerland, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, Djibouti and Somalia.
Authorities in the kingdom also suspended entry to passengers coming from the same countries.
Additionally, Saudi Arabia also suspended passenger traffic overland to and from Jordan. Commercial movement and cargo traffic is still permitted, as are exceptional humanitarian cases.
The move does not apply to Saudi Arabia-based healthcare workers from India and the Philippines, as well as shipping, trade and evacuation trips conducted with precautions.
As of the morning of Thursday, March 12, Saudi Arabia has 45 confirmed cases of coronavirus, 1 of which has recovered.
Despite the suspension of travel to the European Union, Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) will continue to operate flights from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport through Friday, March 13, for those wishing to return to Saudi Arabia.
Previously, the Saudi embassy in Paris had called on Saudi nationals to establish contact with them to arrange and coordinate their flights back to Saudi Arabia.
Earlier this week, Saudi authorities announced that fines of up to SAR 500,000 ($133,000) will be imposed on anyone who fails to disclose health information or travel details at entry points throughout the kingdom.
“All the travellers coming to the kingdom by international flights, managers and workers of other transportation means have to respect local and international health directives,” the Saudi public prosecutor said in a statement.
Saudi officials have already restricted travel to and from 14 countries – including the UAE, Kuwait, Egypt and Italy.
On Sunday, the kingdom imposed a temporary lockdown on the eastern province of Qatif – where a large amount of cases have been confirmed – as temporarily closed the King Fahd Causeway that links Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.