Saudi Arabia has decided to suspend domestic travels for the next 14 days to restrict the spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19, said the Saudi Press Agency on Friday.

The country has decided to suspend its domestic flights, trains, buses, and taxis for the next two weeks. According to the SPA's quote from the Ministry of Interior, the measure is supposed to be enacted from Saturday, March 21. The only flights that would be traveling will be for humanitarian and similar cases, private aviation and medical evacuation aircraft. They should be covered by the necessary permits to conduct the travel.

The ban is not applicable to buses traveling for governmental agencies or public or private health facilities, and commercial establishments transporting their employees, or those that are used for health, humanitarian or security purposes. Penalties have been placed for disobeying orders. Taxi and bus operators are requested to follow the steps carefully.

Picture for representation
General view of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia Reuters

Affected service routes

Routes from Riyadh-Dammam line through Abqaiq and Hofuf, the Riyadh-Jawf line through the Majmaa, Al-Qassim, and Hail, and the Haramain Express will be affected due to the suspension of train services.

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" will continue to run. Ferries to and from Jazan and Farasan Island will continue to function but the number of passengers will be restricted. Transport services related to the vital organs in the country such as the health sector and other service and commodity sectors will not be affected by the temporary ban.

Suspension of prayer in the Holy Mosques

Saudi has also suspended worship in the mosques in Mecca and Madina. Saudi had earlier suspended all congregational prayers in other mosques except for Masjid al-Haram and Masjid al-Nabawi. So far Saudi has confirmed more than 270 cases in the country, which also included people from other countries. The country confirmed 36 new cases on Thursday.