JEDDAH: Saudi retail stores and shopping malls on Wednesday reopened their doors to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a strict set of rules in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
Shoppers will have to undergo temperature checks at the entrance to stores with those showing readings of higher than 38 degrees Celsius being transferred to the nearest medical center.
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“Commercial firms are required to carry out temperature checks for their customers and workers before their shifts, prohibit tests for cosmetic products and perfumes, close elevators and apply floor markings to outline social distancing measures,” said Ministry of Commerce and Investment spokesperson, Abdulrahman Al-Hussein.
Shoppers will also be required to keep two meters away from each other, wear face masks and gloves when using carriers, avoid testing products, and have no more than one accompanying person.
Children under the age of 15 will not be allowed entry, while the elderly and people with chronic illnesses such as heart, lung and kidney diseases, and immunity-related conditions are being advised to stay at home.
Entertainment venues along with cafes and restaurants in shopping centers will remain closed along with fitting and prayer rooms.
With many people choosing to shop online, the ministry revealed it had received more than 12,000 reports of shipping delays since the beginning of Ramadan.
“We are currently working with the related authorities and parties to offer a quick, effective solution very soon,” Al-Hussein said.
He also highlighted an April rise of 300 percent on March in complaints and reports by customers of violations, via the 1900 phone number or the Balagh app.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, contracting companies and factories also resumed activities without restrictions on time. The Kingdom has a total of 9,000 factories, around 3,000 of which have been working at full production capacity to provide food and pharmaceutical products.
Mazen Al-Hammad, Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources spokesperson, said: “There are 50 medical factories in the Kingdom, along with seven factories working on the manufacture of respiratory devices. We currently have a locally manufactured device which has been put on trial in a hospital.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has recorded 1,325 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number to 21,402, of which 18,292 are active cases. The Ministry of Health announced 169 newly recovered patients, making 2,953 in all. Five new deaths were reported, raising the toll to 157.
The latest fatalities involved expats in Makkah and the Eastern Province aged between 25 and 52.
Health ministry spokesman, Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly, stressed that the crisis was not over and urged people to abide by preventive measures and avoid any potential crowding.