Saudi Arabia pauses entertainment stream to check virus’ surge

WION Web Team
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Updated: Feb 04, 2021, 02:07 PM IST


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All events and parties, including weddings in banquet halls or hotels, have been suspended by the kingdom for 30 days, the interior ministry said

In a move to tighten coronavirus restrictions amid a spike in infections, Saudi Arabia has shut down entertainment centres, including cinemas and suspended dine-in services at restaurants, on Thursday. 

All events and parties, including weddings in banquet halls or hotels, have been suspended by the kingdom for 30 days, the interior ministry said in a statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency. 

Not just this, the kingdom has halted 'all entertainment activities’, including cinemas and gaming parlours and suspended dine-in services in all restaurants and cafes for 10 days, it added. It also warned the suspension might get extended. 

The measures, which will be implemented from 10.00 pm on Thursday (1900 GMT), are aimed at 'preventing the outbreak of a second wave' of the pandemic, the ministry said. 

The announcement comes as Health Minister Tawfiq al-Rabiah warned on Sunday about new coronavirus restrictions, which could be imposed if citizens and residents do not comply with health restrictions. 

Till now, Saudi Arabia has reported nearly 369,000 coronavirus cases and almost 6,400 deaths, the highest among the Gulf Arab states. 

From a peak of nearly 5,000 in last June, the daily infections dipped below 100 in early January. 

However, new daily infections have tripled since then, with 306 cases reported by the health ministry on Wednesday. 

Saudi Arabia launched its coronavirus vaccination campaign on December 17 after receiving the first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 

The health ministry said the programme would roll out in three phases, starting with people over 65 and those with chronic ailments, or who are at high risk of infection. 

But last month, the ministry said it was forced to slow the rollout due to a delay in vaccine deliveries.