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Saudi Arabia reopens cinemas after three month coronavirus lockdown

Saudi Arabia is easing lockdown measures [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 June, 2020

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Saudi Arabia has eased lockdown measures across the kingdom, with authorities confirming the reopening of cinema theatres.
Saudi Arabia has announced it is reopening cinema theatres as the kingdom eases coronavirus lockdown measures, days after its decision to open mosques.

On Sunday the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM) announced there will be strict precautionary measures and preventative protocols set in place to limit the spread of Covid-19.

This comes as Saudi Arabia considers cancelling the holy pilgrimage of Hajj due to the pandemic.

The commission published a set of guidelines to be followed by cinemas in the country, including floor stickers to promote social distancing measures of two metres in waiting areas, entrances, ticket stalls, food and beverage stalls, as well as toilets.

There will be two seats left empty between seating areas to ensure social distancing is followed, and while families can sit together, they can do so by keeping a two metre distance from other cinema-goers.

Customers have also been instructed to purchase tickets from websites and apps, and to reserve their seating online ahead of time.

Hand sanitisers will also be made available for customers and will be placed in easily accessible areas, the announcement confirmed.

Cinema staff have been instructed to wear masks and gloves when dealing with customers, and have been given authority prevent those unwilling to comply with the measures from entering the premises.

In the event that a member of staff is reported to have coronavirus symptoms, the theatre must be closed and shows suspended until premises are cleaned, sterilised and ventilated.

Mosques to be reopened

Saudi Arabia also plans to reopen from Sunday mosques in Mecca, the holiest city in Islam, after they were closed for three months due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, state television reported.

The kingdom has taken restrictive measures against the virus, particularly in Mecca, but the number of new coronavirus cases has notably increased in recent days.

"The mosques in the holy city will begin to reopen their doors to the faithful on Sunday after three months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic," the state-run Al-Ekhbariya channel reported, citing a decision by the Islamic affairs ministry.

Some 1,500 holy sites are preparing to welcome visitors, the channel reported, showing footage of workers disinfecting floors and carpets.

The decision comes weeks before the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

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While the Hajj is set to be held in late July, authorities are yet to announce if it will go ahead or be cancelled.

Outside Mecca, mosques elsewhere in the country reopened at the end of May, but with strict rules imposing social distancing and other measures.

The hardest hit Gulf state, Saudi Arabia has reported over 150,000 virus cases, including nearly 1,200 deaths.

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