Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism announced over the weekend it has temporarily stopped issuing visas to people in certain countries across Europe and Asia.
In an attempt to control the spread of the deadly Coronavirus and thwart off an outbreak in the Kingdom, KSA will stop issuing tourist visas to people from China, Italy, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Kazakhstan.
The decision applies to the Arab state’s electronic visas and its visa-on-arrival. In addition, tourist visas given to citizens of these countries before the ban will become temporarily void.
Countries outside of this list will still be allowed entry in Saudi, though they may not enter the holy cities of Makkah or Medinah.
"These procedures are temporary and are subject to continuous evaluation by the competent authorities," a spokesman for the ministry said.
Italy, Korea and Japan are three of the worst-hit areas by the virus outside of China. According to the World Health Organisation’s Situation Report 40, Korea currently has 3,150 total cases of COVID-19, while Japan has 230. Italy has the most cases of the virus of any European country, clocking in at 888.According to the Situation Report, KSA does not have any cases. Its strict visa issuing freeze follows an announcement it has also stopped issuing visas to pilgrims to the holy cities.