Saudi Arabia enters final phase in return to ‘new normal’

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All commercial and economic activities are to return in all Saudi cities and regions from Sunday. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia will lift a curfew to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Kingdom on Sunday at 6 a.m. (SPA)
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Updated 21 June 2020

Saudi Arabia enters final phase in return to ‘new normal’

  • The Umrah pilgrimage and international flights remain suspended
  • Gatherings of more than 50 people are not allowed and people should ensure that they wear a mask in public

JEDDAH: The return to normal life across the Kingdom is set to begin on Sunday, June 21, after 73 days of a nationwide lockdown imposed on April 8.

Following the statement issued on May 26, and based on the reports of the authorities regarding measures taken in light of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Saudi Ministry of  Interior stated that a royal approval had been issued that stated the nationwide curfew was to be lifted across the Kingdom from Sunday, June 21 at 6 a.m.

All commercial and economic activities are to return in all Saudi cities and regions, though individuals and companies should take into account preventive protocols requiring everyone to commit to social distancing, wear masks to cover the nose and mouth, and which ban gatherings of more than 50 people.

The measures are to be periodically assessed and reviewed by the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH).

Umrah pilgrimage and visits to holy sites remain suspended. The decision will be reviewed periodically in light of new developments.

International flights remain suspended, as well as all travel activities through sea and land entry-exit points, until further notice, and penalties will be applied against any individuals or facilities that violate rules issued to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Officials stressed the need for all residents and employers to assume their responsibilities and abide by the precautionary and preventive measures, and to commit to all the instructions issued by the relevant authorities in the Kingdom.

Residents are urged to download the Tawakkalna and Tabaud (Distancing) applications on their smart phones, to stay up to date on all health instructions, directions and developments about the spread of the virus.

FASTFACT

154,233 coronavirus cases

98,917 recoveries

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia recorded 3,941 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, meaning 154,233 people in Saudi Arabia have now contracted the disease. There are currently 54,086 active cases, 1,955 of them critical.

The MOH announced 3,153 new recoveries, taking the total number to 98,917 while 46 new deaths have been reported, raising the death toll to 1,230.

The MOH also released a guideline for residents using taxis and ride-hailing services, mandating that payments be electronic and contactless, that passengers should keep any waste items with them and dispose of them later, should avoid touching surfaces, only sit in the backseats of vehicles, and carry hand sanitizers and extra cloth face masks at all times.

The Saudi Ministry of Human Resource and Social Development stated that all government sector work forces should not exceed a capacity of 75 percent throughout the work day at their place of work. Workers should be divided into three shifts starting from 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. to stagger entry into buildings

The director of the information and communication department at the General Directorate of Prisons, Dr. Bandar Al-Khurami, confirmed that there were no cases of COVID-19 among Saudi prison inmates on Friday.

In a telephone interview on the Saudia TV channel, Dr. Bandar said that the Directorate General of Prisons had implemented a plan consisting of two parts, through raising awarenesswith lectures and by applying preventive measures issued by the MOH in prisons, including testing employees before entry to premises, the sterilization of buildings, and the cancelation family visits for inmates.

He added that the directorate was working to provide virtual communication between inmates and families until further notice.

Al-Khurami pointed out that the implementation of these measures contributed to preserving the safety and health of prison inmates and employees of the General Directorate of Prisons.

 


Harassers face ‘naming and shaming’ after Saudi Shoura Council ruling

Updated 01 October 2020

Harassers face ‘naming and shaming’ after Saudi Shoura Council ruling

  • It will help eliminate harassment in workplaces and public places as well as in schools

JEDDAH: Violations of Saudi Arabia’s anti-sexual harassment laws could be punished by “naming and shaming” following a decision by the Kingdom’s Shoura Council to approve a defamation penalty.

The council voted in favor of the penalty during its session on Wednesday after previously rejecting the move in March this year.

Council member Latifah Al-Shaalan said the proposal to include the penalty was sent by the Saudi Cabinet.

Saudi lawyer Njood Al-Qassim said she agrees with the move, adding that it will help eliminate harassment in workplaces and public places as well as in schools.

“The penalty will be imposed according to a court ruling under the supervision of judges, and according to the gravity of the crime and its impact on society,” Al-Qassim told Arab News.

“This will be a deterrent against every harasser and molester,” she said.

Al-Qassim said that legal experts are required to explain the system and its penalties to the public.

“The Public Prosecution has clarified those that may be subject to punishment for harassment crimes, including the perpetrator, instigator and accessory to the crime, the one who agreed with the harasser, malicious report provider, and the person who filed a malicious prosecution lawsuit,” she added.

“The Public Prosecution also confirmed that attempted harassment requires half the penalty prescribed for the crime,” said Al-Qassim.

In May 2018, the Shoura Council and Cabinet approved a measure criminalizing sexual harassment under which offenders will be fined up to SR100,000 ($26,660) and jailed for a maximum of two years, depending on the severity of the crime. 

In the most severe cases, where the victims are children or disabled, for example, violators will face prison terms of up to five years and/or a maximum penalty of SR300,000.

Incidents that have been reported more than once will be subject to the maximum punishment. 

The law seeks to combat harassment crimes, particularly those targeting children under 18 and people with special needs.

Witnesses are also encouraged to report violations and their identities will remain confidential.

The law defines sexual harassment as words or actions that hint at sexuality toward one person from another, or that harms the body, honor or modesty of a person in any way. It takes into account harassment in public areas, workplaces, schools, care centers, orphanages, homes and on social media.

“The legislation aims at combating the crime of harassment, preventing it, applying punishment against perpetrators and protecting the victims in order to safeguard the individual’s privacy, dignity and personal freedom which are guaranteed by Islamic law and regulations,” a statement from the Shoura Council said.

Council member Eqbal Darandari, who supports the law, said on Twitter that the defamation penalty has proven its effectiveness in crimes in which a criminal exploits a person’s trust.

“The defamation of one person is a sufficient deterrent to the rest,” she said.

Social media activist Hanan Abdullah told Arab News the decision “is a great deterrent for every harasser since some fear for their personal and family’s reputation, and won’t be deterred except through fear of defamation.”

The move will protect women from “uneducated people who believe that whoever leaves her house deserves to be attacked and harassed,” she said.

“Anyone who is unhappy with this decision should look at their behavior.”