Saudi Arabia suspending domestic flights, mass land transport in fight against COVID-19

Travel on public transport within Saudi Arabia has been suspended. (AFP)
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Updated 20 March 2020

Saudi Arabia suspending domestic flights, mass land transport in fight against COVID-19

  • Taxi services warned against evading the ban

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is suspending domestic flights, trains, buses and taxis for 14 days in a heightened effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said on Friday.

Quoting a directive from the Ministry of Interior, SPA said the new measure will take effect at 6 a.m. on Saturday, March 21, 2020.

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health has confirmed 274 COVID-19 cases so far and no deaths, while globally the pandemic has killed nearly 10,000 and infected over 240,000.

Only flights related to humanitarian and necessary cases, medical evacuation aircraft and private aviation would be allowed, provided that they are covered by the necessary permits issued by the Civil Aviation Authority, SPA said.

Also exempted from the travel ban are buses belonging to government agencies or public or private health facilities, and commercial establishments transporting their employees, or those that are used for health, humanitarian or security purposes.

Bus and taxi operators are obliged to obey the suspension order so as not to suffer penalties, the SPA quoted the Interior Ministry.

Affected in the train services suspension are the Riyadh-Dammam line through Abqaiq and Hofuf, the Riyadh-Jawf line through the Majmaa, Al-Qassim and Hail, and the Haramain Express. 

Allowed to continue operating are 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".

Transport ferries between Jazan and Farasan Island may also continue operating, but the number of passengers would be reduced to 100 people per trip, "taking into account the employees and residents of Farsan Island, and not allowing travel through them for tourist purposes."

Cargo ships will be allowed to continue with their usual program, provided that the crews take all precautions to limit the transmission of infection.

Transportation related to vital sectors such as health, services and basic commodities such as food, energy, water and communications, etc., air freight and necessary security transfers will not be affected by the temporary ban, said the SPA report.


SFA launches Saudi Arabia’s first walk-run event in the summer

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Updated 2 min 44 sec ago

SFA launches Saudi Arabia’s first walk-run event in the summer

  • Staged under the banner of the Quality of Life program, the Step Together walk-run series aims to contribute to Vision 2030 by ensuring that physical activity levels are maintained and grow during the summer months

RIYADH: The Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA) has announced its first outdoor event of the summer season, a series of competitive walk-runs called Step Together.
The first Step Together virtual walk-run is open to individual and teams. Participants can register from July 17 until the closing date of July 26.
Adults taking part can choose to complete either a 42 kilometer full marathon or a 21 kilometer half marathon over a period of 10 days, commencing on July 17. Children under the age of 15 taking part in the challenge will complete a shorter 10 kilometer race over the same period.
The event is the first organized by the SFA since lockdown restrictions were eased. It is designed to appeal to all ages, abilities and demographics by offering both walk and run options. Participants who meet the distance goals will be awarded with finishing medals and electronic certificates celebrating their achievement.
Participants will be able to use their own preferred digital fitness tracker. They will upload data and images every day to the race platform to register progress and compare their results with other participants on the race leaderboard.
Community sports groups (CSGs) are also encouraged to join Step Together, with the event featuring an exclusive leaderboard for groups. Members of CSGs can complete simultaneously in both individual and group categories.
Registered users will each receive email confirmations with a unique link and instructions for the Race Result platform.
The dedicated link allows each participant to enter distance and elapsed time each day, validated by a screenshot from any digital fitness tracker.
A results tab on the platform allows users to enjoy friendly competition and compare results with other participants.
There are also leaderboards for various categories on the same page, including age, gender and distance.
Staged under the banner of the Quality of Life program, the Step Together walk-run series aims to contribute to Vision 2030 by ensuring that physical activity levels are maintained and grow during the summer months.
The aims to promote a renewed excitement and energy for outdoor fitness.
A recent SFA report said there was a 60 percent increase in walking in Saudi Arabia since March, while running became 30 percent more popular.
The report added that the increases mainly came from people who were previously less active.
The SFA aims to further encourage enjoyment of physical fitness within this demographic.

Step Together participants can register on the Race Result platform at sfa.sa/STen.