Saudi nationals scan their documents at a digital-Immigration gate at the King Khalid International Airport, after Saudi authorities lifted the travel ban on its citizens after fourteen months due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 16, 2021. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri
Saudi Arabia will impose a three-year travel ban on citizens travelling to countries on the kingdom's 'red list' under efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus and its new variants, state news agency SPA said on Tuesday.
It cited an unnamed interior ministry official as saying some Saudi citizens, who in May were allowed to travel abroad without prior permission from authorities for the first time since March 2020, had violated travel regulations.
"Anyone who is proven to be involved will be subject to legal accountability and heavy penalties upon their return, and will be banned from travel for three years," the official said.
Saudi Arabia has banned travel to or transit at a number of countries including Afghanistan, Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Pakistan, South Africa, Turkey, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates.
"The Ministry of Interior stresses that citizens are still banned from travelling directly or via another country to these states or any other that has yet to control the pandemic or where the new strains have spread," the official said.
The kingdom, the largest Gulf state with a population of some 30 million, on Tuesday recorded 1,379 new COVID-19 infections, bringing its total to 520,774 cases and 8,189 deaths.
It saw daily infections fall from a peak above 4,000 in June 2020 to below the 100 mark in early January.
Reporting by Marwa Rashad; additional reporting by Raya Jalabi; Editing by Steve Orlofsky