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Saudi Arabia to deport foreign nationals who flout coronavirus measures

Shops will be fined for each shopper or employee over capacity limit of five persons
Malls, shopping centres and retail stores have been allowed to re-open in Saudi Arabia, with strict social distancing measures (AFP)

Saudi Arabia has warned that expatriates found violating coronavirus-curbing measures will be deported and barred from re-entering the kingdom.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior (MOI) issued strict guidelines on social distancing rules on Tuesday, which include a ban on gatherings outside shopping malls and stores.

"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," the ministry said, according to the Saudi Gazette.

Talal Al-Shalhoub, a ministry spokesman, stressed the importance of maintaining social distancing measures and said that gatherings of more than five people were banned in the kingdom during the pandemic.

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The ministry said that shops with customers above capacity levels will be fined SR5,000 ($1,331) for each shopper. The fine is doubled for a second-time offender, and doubled again for third offences.

"In case a private sector establishment repeats the violation... it will be shut down for three months. If the violation is repeated for a second time, the establishment will be shut down for six months," the ministry said.

Shalhoub added that anyone who attends a public gathering or organises one will be considered a violator of government measures and will face fines and penalties.

Saudi Arabia eased coronavirus restrictions put in place during the Muslim month of Ramadan, but is set to enforce stricter lockdown measures from 22 May, a few days before the Eid Al-Fitr holidays.

According to the kingdom's Health Ministry, 62,545 cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported, including 339 deaths.