Saudi suspends domestic flights, public transport for 14 days amid COVID-19

New measures will be effective 6 am on Saturday; essential services exempted

HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/SAUDI General view shows the empty garden of the King Fahd Library, following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia | Reuters

Saudi Arabia will suspend all domestic flights, buses, taxis and trains for 14 days from Saturday to contain the spread of coronavirus, Saudi media reported citing an interior ministry official. The new measures will come into effect at 6 am on Saturday, March 21. 

Buses and cab operators have been warned of hefty penalties in case of violation of restrictions. Saudi Arabia’s health ministry has confirmed 274 cases and no deaths so far. 

According to the directive from the ministry of interior, only flights related to humanitarian and necessary cases, medical evacuation aircraft and private aviation would be allowed, provided that they are covered by the necessary permits issued by the Civil Aviation Authority.

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In addition, buses related to government agencies or public or private health facilities, and commercial establishments transporting their employees, or those that are used for health, humanitarian or security purposes are exempted from the travel restrictions. Also exempted are means of transportation associated with food and water, and cargo ships and freights. However, strict measures of precaution and sanitisation are being undertaken. 

According to, suspended train services include Riyadh-Dammam line through Abqaiq and Hofuf, the Riyadh-Jawf line through the Majmaa, Al-Qassim and Hail, and the Haramain Express. At the same time, commercial transport trains, including the freight train between King Abdulaziz Port in Dammam and the Dry Port in Riyadh, and the mining train of the Saudi Railways Company "Saar" have been exempted from the travel ban. 

With the number of coronavirus positive cases rising in the country, Saudi Arabia imposed flight and travel bans to 31 countries and the European Union. 

Other preventive measures include locking down the oil-producing region of Qatif, where many of its cases are centred, suspending the Umrah pilgrimage, closing schools and cinemas nationwide, cancelling conferences and sporting events, and postponing a G20 ministerial meeting, which was scheduled this week.

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