Saudi Arabia bans Citizens and Residents from performing Umrah pilgrimage

Saudi Arabia suspended Umrah on Wednesday for citizens and residents due to fears of an outbreak of coronavirus, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Under the temporary ban Saudi nationals and residents living in the Kingdom wanting to perform Umrah will not be allowed into Islam’s holiest sites. 

“The decision will be under constant review and it will be reversed as soon as the reasons for reversal are present,” SPA quoted an Interior Ministry official as saying.

The decision was based on “upon the recommendation of the committee concerned with following developments of the virus,” said the agency statement.

The kingdom temporarily suspended entry to the country for the pilgrimage and visits to Makkah and Madinah last week as well as the cancellation of tourist visas from countries where the virus is a threat.

In a dramatic move, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday barred GCC citizens and residents from entering the kingdom for 14 days after returning from outside the region due to coronavirus concerns, state news agency SPA reported.

The official Saudi Press Agency announced that travelers coming from any Gulf state must spend 14 continuous days there and show no signs of the coronavirus before they are allowed to enter the kingdom.

The move is part of the country’s effort to support “the international community and organizations such as the World Health Organisation to halt the spread of the virus,” the state news agency said in a statement.