Saudi Arabia’s King Salman issued an order to partially lift the curfew in all regions of the kingdom, to become from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., starting Sunday through Wednesday May 13, while keeping a 24-hour curfew in Makkah and in previously isolated neighbourhoods, early on Sunday.
Despite the curfew still in effect in Makkah suggest that if this goes well, the Saudi government will evaluate the lockdown measures around the Holy City.
The order also allowed the opening of some economic and commercial activities, which includes wholesale and retail shops in addition to malls, in the period from 6 to 20 Ramadan, which is from Wednesday April 29 to Wednesday May 13.
Saudi Arabia joined the UAE and Jordan that have eased restrictions on people’s movement. But these countries have remained on high alert to avoid a new wave of infections.
The new order was based on recommendations of relevant health authorities to enable the return of some economic activities and to relieve citizens and residents.
Law enforcers are also instructed to ensure that “social distancing” is observed at all times, and that social gatherings involving more than five people, such as wedding events and parties shall remain disallowed.
The decree reminded the public that the prescribed penalties will be imposed on violators and facilities that violate the regulations and instructions will be closed according to established procedures.
The holy month of Ramadan began on Friday with Islam’s holiest sites in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere largely empty of worshippers as the coronavirus crisis forced authorities to impose unprecedented restrictions.
During Ramadhan, Muslims the world over join their families to break the fast at sunset and go to mosques to pray. But the pandemic has changed priorities, with curbs on large gatherings for prayers and public iftars, or meals to break the fast.
In a rare occurrence in Islam’s 1,400-year history, Makkah’s Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina – the religion’s two holiest locations – will be closed to the public during the fasting period.