Saudi Arabia begins lifting coronavirus curfew

Saudi Arabia to begin easing coronavirus restrictions despite fears of second wave of infections
3 min read
26 May, 2020
Saudi Arabia said it is moving toward a 'post-lockdown normal'.
Saudi Arabia is beginning to ease coronavirus restrictions [Getty]
Saudi Arabia will begin lifting restrictions enacted to tackle the coronavirus epidemic in the kingdom, saying on Tuesday it is hoping to return life to normal by next month, despite fears of a second wave of infections.

The first phase of the kingdom's re-opening will take place between 26 and 28 May and will see an easing of curfews in all areas, apart from Mecca, with cars allowed to return to the roads between 6am and 3pm.

Shops and malls will be re-opened, allowing commercial activity to resume after a bleak economic outlook for the kingdom due to coronavirus lockdowns and low oil prices.

Beauty salons, hairdressers, cinemas and gyms will remain closed.

Phase two will take place between 31 May and 20 June and will see Friday prayers at mosques allowed to take place, apart from in the city of Mecca.

Workers will return to their offices while domestic travel restrictions - including internal flights - will be lifted, but international travel restrictions will remain in place.

Restaurants, barbers, cinemas, sports clubs, gyms and other entertainment facililities will re-open and gatherings of less than 50 people allowed to take place.

The third phase, beginning 21 June, will see life return to "normal". 

It comes after grave ecomomic forecasts for the kingdom due to the coronavirus lockdowns and low oil prices.

Saudi Arabia is in the middle of a major economic crisis that will see tax rises, job losses and cuts to public spending, including the flagship projects under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 diversification plans.

Other Gulf states are also suffering from economic hardships with Kuwait and the UAE also announcing on Tuesday plans to ease coronavirus restritions.

Kuwait said on Tuesday it will not renew a curfew for the country past 30 May and will begin to return life to normal.

Dubai, which also had tough restrictions during the crisis, said that it will allow gyms, cinemas and other businesses to re-open from Wednesday.

The return to normal comes despite the continued emergence of Covid-19 cases in the Gulf.

Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday that it was seeing a "downward trend" in coronavirus infections, with a slight drop in cases over the past four days.

It still saw 2,235 new coronavirus cases and nine more deaths on Monday, while the numbers in other Gulf states continues to rise.

Neigbouring Oman is amid the worst stage in the epidemic with 513 new cases recorded on Sunday.

Health organisations have warned that a second wave of infections is likely to hit countries that are easing restrictions.
 

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