RIYADH: The Kingdom is easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions from Thursday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
There will be a three-phase return to normality, an official source at the Interior Ministry said as the government approved new regulations on Monday night.
The first phase covers three days from May 28 to May 30, when curfew times will ease in the Kingdom’s regions, except Makkah, between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Travel between cities and regions in private vehicles will be allowed outside curfew hours. Work activities that were previously exempted, including wholesale and retail shops and malls, will be allowed to resume and operate outside curfew hours.
All activities where social distancing cannot be applied will remain suspended, including beauty salons, barbershops, sports and health clubs, recreational centers and cinemas, as well as other activities specified by authorities.
In the second phase, from May 31 to June 20, the curfew time will be further relaxed in the Kingdom’s regions, except Makkah, between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Friday and group prayers in the Kingdom’s mosques, except in Makkah, will be permitted again and precautionary measures will be adhered to. Friday and group prayers will continue at the Grand Mosque.
The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance gave a number of instructions regarding prayers, including worshippers bringing their own prayer mat, reading the Qur’an on smartphones or bringing their own copy, maintaining a 2-meter distance from other worshippers, performing ablutions at home, avoiding handshakes and crowding at entrances.
People with chronic diseases, as well as the elderly and children below the age of 15, are not allowed in mosques.
Mosques will open their doors 15 minutes before the call to prayer and will close 10 minutes after prayer. On Fridays mosques will open 20 minutes before adhan and close 20 minutes after prayer. Friday prayers and sermons should not exceed 15 minutes.
Ministries, government authorities and private sector companies are allowed to resume office working, according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development’s regulations.
Saudi Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmed Al-Rajhi said that the public sector employees will gradually resume work from Sunday but return to full attendance on June 14.
Suspension of domestic flights will be lifted, while adhering to the precautionary measures and procedures specified by the General Authority of Civil Aviation in coordination with the Health Ministry and other relevant authorities.
Traveling between regions by different means of transport will also be allowed. Work activities exempted in previous decisions will continue to operate.
Restaurants and cafes will reopen and ordering inside the premises will be allowed, while taking into consideration precautionary measures and social distancing.
Social distancing in public places will continue to be implemented at all times, while the ban on social gatherings of more than 50 people, such as weddings and funerals, will remain in force.
The third phase will start on June 21 when life will return to normal in the Kingdom’s cities and regions, except for Makkah, while ensuring compliance with preventive health instructions and social distancing.
Ensuring the protection of more vulnerable groups of people from infection, especially the elderly and people with chronic or respiratory diseases was vital, the official Interior Ministry source added.
The suspension of Umrah and international flights continues until further notice.
In Makkah first-phase procedures will be applied from May 31 to June 20, while second-phase procedures will start on June 21.