Saudi Arabia to lift nationwide curfew from Sunday

Photo: Collected

Saudi Arabia will end a nationwide curfew and lift restrictions on businesses from Sunday morning after three months of lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, state news agency SPA quoted a source in the interior ministry as saying on Saturday.

The curfew will be lifted as of 6 AM local time on Sunday. Restrictions will remain, however, for religious pilgrimages, international travel and social gatherings of more than 50 people.

Tough restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus came into force in March, including 24-hour curfews in most towns and cities.

Authorities say all economic and commercial activities will resume, but bans on international travel and religious pilgrimages will not change.

Saudi Arabia plans to limit numbers at the annual haj pilgrimage to prevent a further outbreak of coronavirus cases, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier this month.

Some 2.5 million pilgrims visit the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina for the week-long haj, a once-in-a-lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it. Saudi Arabia asked Muslims in March to put haj plans on hold and suspended the umrah pilgrimage until further notice.

Several countries, including Malaysia and Indonesia, have said they will not allow their nationals to attend.

Saudi Arabia has recorded almost 155,000 infections and 1,230 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. But the number has increased in recent days, the AFP news agency reports.

Some measures have already been lifted, with tens of thousands of mosques – including the Prophet’s Mosque in the city of Medina – reopening last month.

Around 1,500 mosques in Mecca will follow suit from Sunday, one channel quoted the religious affairs ministry as saying.