RIYADH: As the Kingdom fights off a second wave of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infections, the government has been quick to clamp down on activities likely to risk spreading the virus.
Following instructions from the Ministry of Interior, recreational events, including venues such as cinemas and indoor entertainment establishments, have been suspended for 10 days.
Indoor dining at restaurants has been halted again, though takeaways will be permitted, while gyms and sports centers will remain shuttered for at least 10 days.
Ongoing activities and events have been temporarily halted nationwide such as the ongoing Riyadh Oasis, impending concerts canceled or postponed until further notice as well as day trips by tour groups for 30 days.
Despite an aggressive inoculation plan, with almost 500,000 vaccines administered so far, case numbers have spiked, with a fourfold increase since the beginning of January.
But what has caused the numbers to go up when the outbreak appeared to be calming down?
Sociologist Amani Al-Ajlan told Arab News that the answer lies with “social consciousness,” and that every member of society should be prepared to shoulder the responsibility of keeping the whole population safe.
“If you have 10 people, and nine of them are socially conscious and one of them is unaware or uncaring of the consequences of their actions, this one individual can cause damage and harm to the other nine,” she said.
Al-Ajlan believes that restricting activities and closing venues temporarily is the only viable way of controlling the spread of the virus.
“It is impossible in situations like this to expect everyone to comply with restrictions they think are optional,” she said.
“There will always be those that are just hard-wired to disobey rules and cause chaos in society. It’s better to impose a lockdown on society as a whole rather than to risk a few of those people thinking they are above law and order.”
Dr. Faisal Al-Ghanim, a doctor at a government Tataman clinic, told Arab News that he and his colleagues are starting to see a concerning rise in case numbers.
Recreational events, including venues such as cinemas and indoor entertainment establishments, have been suspended for 10 days. Ongoing activities and events have been temporarily halted nationwide such as the ongoing Riyadh Oasis, impending concerts canceled or postponed until further notice as well as day trips by tour groups for 30 days.
“During the previous weeks, we have noticed a sudden resurgence of COVID-19 patients, all stemming from one source — gatherings. Weddings are the most common source of infection, followed by parties,” he said.
Al-Ghanim said that hospitals are again starting to fill, and clinics are getting more crowded, especially following the two-week school vacation in January.
“If we don’t take precautions and apply strict rules on gatherings and social distancing, we will end up having a worse COVID-19 spread than the first one. It is crucial we protect our families, our elderly and those who are dear to us,” he said.
British citizen Jonjo Murphy, who has lived in the Kingdom for three years, told Arab News how grateful he was to be in Saudi Arabia during such a tumultuous time.
“Thank you, Saudi Arabia, for allowing me to live here during this mess. My family and friends in the UK say the situation is much worse, with more cases and more lockdowns. I’ve been able to keep my job and live a relatively normal life,” he said.
US citizen John Samuels agreed, saying that there was nowhere he would rather be than the Kingdom, including his own home country.