|20 May, 2020

Expat violators of coronavirus rules in Saudi shops face deportation

Malls, shopping centers, and retail stores were allowed to re-open given they follow strict preventative measures

A Saudi woman walks on a social distancing marker at a shopping center, as preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 3, 2020.

A Saudi woman walks on a social distancing marker at a shopping center, as preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 3, 2020.

REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

RIYADH — Expatriates found violating the coronavirus-related precautionary measures and gather in large groups in or outside shops will be deported and forbidden from re-entry, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) said on Tuesday.

The ministry said penalties for shoppers or employees gathering inside or outside commercial shops in numbers higher than the set capacity limits will be as follows:

First time offenders: An establishment will be fined SR5,000 ($1,331) for every extra person present in the facility above the set capacity limit. The maximum fine is SR100,000 ($26,619).

Second time offenders: An establishment will be fined SR10,000 ($2,662) for every extra person present in the facility above the set capacity limit.

Third time offenders: The fine will be doubled, and the person in charge will be referred to the Public Prosecution.

“In case a private sector establishment repeated the violation for the first time, it will be shut down for three months. If the violation was repeated for a second time, the establishment will be shut down for six months,” the ministry said.

“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,” it added.

The security spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, Talal Al-Shalhoub, had recently reiterated the importance of maintaining social distancing measures and stressed that large gatherings of more than five people were banned in the Kingdom amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He also reminded the public that anyone who attends a gathering or calls for it or causes it will be considered a violator of the government’s measures and will face fines and penalties.

On April 25, during the early days of the holy month of Ramadan, authorities ordered partially easing the coronavirus restrictions.

Malls, shopping centers, and retail stores were allowed to re-open given they follow strict preventative measures including social distancing and hygiene precautions.

A spokesman of the Ministry of Commerce had said on May 14 that malls and shopping centers will remain open until May 22 (Ramadan 29).

He also warned the public to adhere to the ban of the entry of children under the age of 15 and the ban of shopping in groups, and social distancing.

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