Citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have been temporarily banned from entering Saudi Arabia’s holy cities Makkah and Madinah, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Saudi government is closely following developments in the spread of the virus and its repercussions on an ongoing basis.

Further to the statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 26, 2020, regarding the developments in the spread of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19), and based on the recommendations of the competent health authorities to apply the highest precautionary standards to surround the virus and prevent its spread locally and globally, and to promote existing preventive measures to provide the maximum degree of protection as well as the application of safety standards to preserve the health of visitors of the Grand Mosque and Prophet’s Mosque.

It was decided – in light of the exceptional health considerations currently in place in some of the Gulf Cooperation Council for Arab States – the temporary suspension of entry of the council’s citizens to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.

The decision excludes the GCC’s citizens who have been in the kingdom for 14 consecutive days and did not show signs of coronavirus infection, of them who wish to perform Umrah or visit the Prophet’s Mosque can apply through the website of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to obtain a permit during the period of temporary suspension.

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 Kingdom temporarily suspended entry for individuals seeking to perform the Umrah pilgrimage in Makkah or visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, as well as tourists traveling from countries where coronavirus poses a risk as determined by the Kingdom’s health authorities.

These countries include China, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Kazakhstan.