Saudi Arabia tightens curfew to limit the spread of Corona


RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has tightened a partial curfew across the country with the aim of limiting the spread of the Corona virus, to include preventing entry or exit from Riyadh, Mecca and Medina, as well as preventing travel between all regions of the kingdom starting on Wednesday.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz speaking in Riyadh on March 19, 2020. A copy of the Saudi Royal Court.

The orders, approved by King Salman and published by the official media, also expanded the curfew in the three cities, starting at 3 pm instead of 7 pm, starting on Thursday.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia imposed a curfew for 21 days after it recorded a jump in the number of cases of corona. The kingdom announced its first death on Wednesday in the city, as well as 205 new cases, bringing the total number of injuries to 767.

In the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the total number of injuries jumped to 2250 with six deaths, while the Sultanate of Oman recorded 15 new cases and Kuwait recorded four cases.

Saudi Arabia has taken strict measures to contain the virus, including stopping international flights, suspending Umrah, and closing mosques, schools, shopping centers and restaurants.

The curfew and other restrictions changed the rhythm of daily life in the kingdom of about 30 million people, many of whom loved to gather in cafes or homes until late at night.

Nasif Erishik, a Saudi resident in Saudi Arabia who plays cards most nights with friends in one of their homes, said that the group resorted to playing online to keep communication between them.

“Corona … has changed our habits and everything in our lives,” he told Reuters.

The authorities said that violators of the curfew would face a fine of ten thousand riyals ($ 2,665), and they could be imprisoned for up to 20 days if the violation occurred again. Those who publish video footage of the violations or encourage people to do so may face up to five years in prison and a fine of three million riyals (800,000 dollars), the public prosecutor said.

Authorities in the UAE, the region’s business center, have urged people to stay at home but have not announced a formal curfew or a suspension of work.

On Wednesday, authorities instructed food outlets to remain open 24 hours, but without exceeding 30 percent of their capacity to ensure a two-meter distance between shoppers.

The organizers of the Expo 2020, scheduled to start in October and expected to attract about 11 million visitors from abroad, confirmed a case of HIV infection among workers, and said they were reviewing plans and preparations.

Press coverage by Maher Shmaitli and Stephen Calin – Prepared by Ayman Saad Muslim for the Arab Bulletin – Edited by Amal Abu Al-Saud


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