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Saudi nationals who flout Covid-19 restrictions on travelling to red list countries could be barred from travelling for up to three years, the kingdom's Interior Ministry announced on Tuesday.
The warning came as the ministry restated its ban on visiting “countries witnessing a surge in cases of Covid-19 and its new variants".
The countries on the kingdom's red list are the UAE, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Turkey, Armenia, Ethiopia, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Belarus, India and Vietnam.
The Interior Ministry said that travelling to the banned countries was an explicit breach of rules to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.
It added that as well as the possible travel ban, the ministry would “impose heavy penalties upon their return” to anyone found to break the rules.
Nationals are not allowed to travel to any of the banned countries directly or indirectly and are asked to exercise caution while travelling to approved destinations.
The Interior Ministry recently announced that from August 9, all Saudis must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to travel outside the kingdom.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia banned travel to the UAE, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Vietnam because of a surge in Covid-19 cases. Nationals and residents returning from those locations have to undergo institutional quarantine for a period of seven days.
Saudi nationals were allowed to travel on May 17 after an 18-month ban owing to Covid-19. Those who have recovered from the virus must wait six months before travelling. Those who have received one dose have to wait two weeks after the shot before travelling.
More than 25 million vaccine doses have been administered in the kingdom and more than 71.8 per cent of the population have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
A total of 520,774 Covid-19 cases have been reported so far in the kingdom, with 8,189 deaths and 501,449 recoveries to date.