The government of Saudi Arabia announced on Saturday, April 25, that the country’s curfew will be wound back to 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from April 26 to May 23. The Gulf country has joined Algeria, Egypt, and the Emirate of Dubai in easing some COVID-19 curbs in light of Ramadan, which began on Friday.
The 24-hour curfew in the holy city of Mecca will remain in place, as will the restrictions in areas under quarantine. Mecca, which is usually full of Hajj pilgrims during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, is eerily empty this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Saudi Arabia has also given some businesses the green light to start up again and help the country’s economy get back on track. Wholesale and retail stores, shopping centers, and malls will be allowed to open within the curfew hours from April 29 to May 13, while construction companies and factories can start up again without time restrictions.
Any outlets not adhering to social distancing rules and sanitation measures can be shut down, and the Ministry of Health will produce daily reports on how well the country is responding to the relaxed measures.
The government also used the curfew reduction announcement to encourage citizens to remain vigilant and respectful of precautionary measures designed to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Businesses and venues that cannot ensure social distancing measures like eateries, hairdressers, or gyms must remain closed for the time being. Non-commercial activities and gatherings of more than five people like weddings, funerals, or group prayers are still prohibited.
Saudi Arabia has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the Gulf and has recorded 16,299 infections and 136 deaths from the virus to date.