DiplomaticQuarter: Swedish envoy commends Saudi Arabia for help with repatriation flights

Swedish Ambassador Niclas Trouve
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Updated 09 April 2020

DiplomaticQuarter: Swedish envoy commends Saudi Arabia for help with repatriation flights

  • Ambassador Niclas Trouve: “The curfew is tough, but it will help us to keep safe"

RIYADH: Swedish Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Niclas Trouve on Wednesday praised Saudi authorities for their help in repatriating Swedish nationals in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to Arab News, Trouve said that about 50 Swedes had left the Kingdom on special flights provided by the embassy.

“The embassy has been working intensively in the past couple of weeks to inform and assist all Swedes in the Kingdom about the coronavirus restrictions and the possibilities of returning home,” he said.

“We have stressed that everyone should think carefully before deciding to travel at all,” the envoy said.

Priority has been given to tourists who have been stranded and are unable to travel back without assistance, and those belonging to certain risk groups, Trouve said.

Swedes who remained in the Kingdom after travel bans were announced had been offered a chance to leave on special commercial flights, Trouve said.

Travelers booked and paid for tickets, although the embassy helped with flight arrangements, he added.

The envoy voiced his gratitude to Saudi Arabian Airlines and the Saudi authorities for making the flights possible.

Trouve said: “Some weeks have already passed and we are all getting used to the new normal, to a more limited space, with fewer social contacts, and with new ways of working from home by WhatsApp and Skype meetings.

“All of us have to make the best out of where we are. However, we all share one important task: Not to contribute to the further spreading of this deadly virus. We should all avoid unnecessary traveling and moving around, and we need to respect the restrictions put in place to protect us all,” he said.

“The curfew is tough, but it will help us to keep safe — and it will not last forever. So let’s respect it,” he added.

“No one can fight this alone, but together we will prevail and survive.”

Trouve also voiced concern about the spread of fake news and propaganda in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

“This is certainly not the time for political or religious divisions; this is the time for global cooperation, dialogue and solidarity,” he said.

“Hopefully, this crisis will teach us that we need more global cooperation, coordination and solidarity, not less. If so, we should use this lesson carefully to deal with other global challenges like conflicts, climate change and poverty. Let’s turn the crisis into an opportunity.”

Saudi Arabia eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions

Updated 21 min 1 sec ago

Saudi Arabia eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions

  • Curfew to be eased on Sunday, except in Makkah, as domestic travel permitted
  • All curfews in Saudi Arabia to be lifted by June 20

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced the easing of restrictions that has halted much of the activity in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Sunday 31, May, the curfew on all areas of the Kingdom will be eased, except Makkah. Movement in cities and within the regions of the country will again be permitted, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The easing will mean the Kingdom’s 24-hour lockdown is relaxed with a curfew from 3 p.m to 6 a.m until Sunday, after which the hours will change to 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.. Makkah will remain under a full 24-hour lockdown.

On June 21, all curfews in the Kingdom will be lifted and prayers at Makkah’s mosque will be permitted.

Before then, social distancing guidelines must continue to be adhered to and gatherings of more than 50 people will continue to be banned.

Authorities have also allowed the attendance at ministries, government agencies and private sector companies, and the return of their office activities.

Some economic and commercial activities will also be allowed to take place including those at wholesale and retail shops, as well as malls. Cafes will be permitted to operate once more.

However, all job sectors where social distancing rules are harder to achieve such as beauty salons, barbershops, sports and health clubs, recreational centers and cinemas will remain closed.

Umrah pilgrimage and international flights will continue to be suspended until further notice.

The new rules are subject to constant evaluation at the health ministry and can be changed if the situation warrants it.

Earlier, Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, the health minister, said: “The phases start gradually until we return to normalcy, with its new concept based on social distancing.” 

He added that the precautionary steps taken by the Kingdom early in the outbreak helped to limit the spread of the virus. 

Now, he said, the ministry has developed a plan for the next phase that relies on two main factors: The capacity of the health care system to cope with critical cases, and the expansion of testing to identify new infections as soon as possible.

Reassuring the Saudi nation on Monday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: “The bad conditions will pass, God willing, and we are heading toward the good, God willing.” 

The Kingdom recorded 2,235 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, taking the total to 74,795, and the death toll rose by nine to 399. Worldwide the virus has infected more than 5.5 million people and killed nearly 350,000.