Saudi Arabia to end virus curfew on June 21, except in Mecca

WION Web Team Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 26, 2020, 05.52 PM(IST)

File photo of coronavirus Photograph:( AFP )

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The first phase, starting on Thursday, will see the 24-hour curfew reduced to between 3 pm-6 am countrywide.

Saudi Arabia will begin easing restrictions on movement and travel this week, more than two months after stringent measures were introduced to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Restrictions will be lifted in three phases, culminating in the curfew completely ending, with the exception of the holy city of Mecca, from June 21, the state news agency reported in a statement early on Tuesday.

The Hajj and Umrah pilgrimmages, which attract millions of travelers from around the world, will remain suspended until further notice.

Saudi Arabia, which has reported the highest number of coronavirus cases in the Gulf, imposed a full nationwide curfew during Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

The kingdom has so far recorded 74,795 cases of COVID-19 with 399 deaths. more than 2,000 cases are still being reported daily.

The first phase, starting on Thursday, will see the 24-hour curfew reduced to between 3 pm-6 am countrywide.

"Starting from Thursday, the kingdom will enter a new phase (in dealing with the pandemic) and will gradually return to normal based on the rules of social distancing," Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said on Monday.

Officials said late Monday that retail stores, gyms, cinemas and attractions like the dolphinarium will be allowed to reopen under social distancing and disinfection rules.

Kuwait, which has reported some 22,000 cases and 165 deaths, also said that it would end its total curfew this weekend, with reduced measures to be announced later.

Free movement between regions and some retail and wholesale activities, including malls, will be allowed to resume.