Algeria to ease coronavirus restrictions on Sunday

An empty street in the Algerian capital Algiers on March 20, 2020. A total of 82 cases of coronavirus COVID-19 have been confirmed in Algeria, according to the health ministry. An 83rd case was detected in an Italian national, who has since returned to Italy. (File/AFP)
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Updated 05 June 2020

Algeria to ease coronavirus restrictions on Sunday

  • The North African country has so far reported 9,831 cases of the novel coronavirus, with 681 deaths

ALGIERS: Algeria will resume some economic activities and allow a number of businesses to reopen from Sunday as part of a plan to end the coronavirus lockdown, the prime minister's office said on Thursday.
It said the government would allow the construction and public works sector to resume activity to help ease the impact of the coronavirus-linked restrictions imposed in March.
The government will also permit the reopening of businesses such as home appliances, vegetable and fruit markets, pastries and men's barbershops.
The second stage of the lockdown relaxation will start on June 14, allowing more businesses to resume, the government said, without giving details.
“The success of the plan to resume economic activity remains dependent on the ability of merchants and operators to ensure the safety of their employees and customers,” the prime minister's office said.
The North African country has so far reported 9,831 cases of the novel coronavirus, with 681 deaths.


Pope Francis ‘very distressed’ over Turkey’s Hagia Sophia conversion to mosque

Updated 13 min 23 sec ago

Pope Francis ‘very distressed’ over Turkey’s Hagia Sophia conversion to mosque

  • ‘My thoughts go to Istanbul. I’m thinking about Hagia Sophia. I am very distressed’

VACTICAN CITY: Pope Francis said Sunday he was “very distressed” over Turkey’s decision to convert the Byzantine-era monument Hagia Sophia back into a mosque.
“My thoughts go to Istanbul. I’m thinking about Hagia Sophia. I am very distressed,” the pope said in the Vatican’s first reaction to a decision that has drawn international criticism.
The Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano had on Saturday carried reaction from different countries about Friday’s decision to turn the monument from a museum back into a mosque but without any comment.
A magnet for tourists worldwide, the Hagia Sophia was first constructed as a cathedral in the Christian Byzantine Empire but was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who critics say is chipping away at the Muslim-majority country’s secular pillars, announced Friday that Muslim prayers would begin on July 24 at the UNESCO World Heritage site.
In the past, he has repeatedly called for the stunning building to be renamed as a mosque and in 2018, he recited a verse from the Qur'an at Hagia Sophia.
Erdogan’s announcement came after a top court canceled a 1934 cabinet decision under modern Turkey’s secularizing founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to preserve the church-turned-mosque as a museum.