Saudi Arabia on Tuesday said it will impose a three-year international travel ban on citizens found to have visited “red listed” countries amid the coronavirus pandemic, Gulf News reported, citing the kingdom’s press agency SPA. They will also face legal action and pay heavy penalties.

Saudi Arabia has banned travel to or transit at countries recording a surge in Covid-19 cases or where new variants have spread. These include India, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iran, Turkey, Armenia, Ethiopia, Somalia, Congo, Afghanistan, Venezuela and Belarus.

An unidentified official said the government had received information that citizens were travelling to prohibited countries in blatant violation of travel norms, reported Khaleej Times.

“Travelling to the banned countries is an obvious violation of Covid-19 related travel restrictions and the Kingdom’s updated instructions,” an unidentified official from Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry said.

“The Ministry of Interior stresses that citizens are still banned from travelling directly or via another country to these states or any other that has yet to control the pandemic or where the new strains have spread,” the official said.

Saudi Arabia recorded 1,379 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, taking its overall tally since the outbreak of the pandemic in January last year to 5,20,774, Arab News reported. The country’s toll rose to 8,189 with 10 more deaths.

Globally, Covid-19 has infected 19.52 crore people and caused 41.76 lakh deaths since the pandemic broke out in December 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University.