Residents of Saudi Arabia who violate the country’s coronavirus ban on large gatherings will be permanently banished from the Kingdom, the nation’s interior ministry announced Tuesday, Saudi news site al-Arabiya reported.
On Saturday, the Ministry of Interior’s (MOI) security spokesman, Talal al-Shalhoub, urged the public to adhere to Saudi Arabia’s physical distancing mandates, been implemented to curb transmission of the Chinese coronavirus.
“If a violator is a resident of Saudi Arabia, he will be deported from the Kingdom, and will be forever forbidden from re-entering it after his punishment is carried out,” al-Shalhoub said Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia, with a population of 30 million people, currently has the highest number of coronavirus cases out of all six Persian Gulf states with 62,545 infections, in addition to 339 deaths. The Kingdom has banned large gatherings, defined as a grouping of “more than five people,” in an effort to contain its outbreak, al-Arabiya reported. To comply with this mandate “shoppers and staff members” are “not allowed to gather in malls or shops beyond the specified capacity limit which ensures two meters of separation between people,” al-Shalhoub said.
Shops will be fined for each person found gathering in and outside of their establishments above the set capacity. For example, for a first-time offender, “an establishment will be fined 5,000 riyals ($1,331) for every extra person present in the facility above the set capacity limit.”
The fine per person above capacity doubles for second and third-time offenders: “The maximum fine is 100,000 riyals ($26,619).” Third-time offenders “will be referred to the public prosecution,” according to the report. Private sector establishments defying the set capacity limits can be shut down by the government for three to six months.