JEDDAH: Saudis and expats must not put social traditions ahead of following strict health and safety rules designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a top sociologist has warned.
Speaking as the rate of infections in the country rose above 1,000 new cases a day, Jeddah-based Soaad Al-Aali told Arab News that the temptation to hold social gatherings could ultimately result in unnecessary deaths.
In January, the daily COVID-19 caseload in the Kingdom had dropped to nearly 100, but while the majority of people were adhering to preventive measures, she said social traditions were causing some to overlook regulations.
“Saudis are experiencing their first real crisis in the history of their country. With their love for their country, the majority of Saudi people, if not all, have shown a great response to the instruction of the concerned health authorities despite their traditional tendency to intimate social gatherings and meetings,” she added.
However, she said there would always be a small minority who ignored rules. “They are found in nearly all societies. Most people are disciplined and respect instructions, but this long pandemic may have made some feel bored and, consequently, a bit careless with regard to precautionary measures.”
Al-Aali added that the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination programs in the Kingdom may also have lulled some people into a false sense of security over spreading the virus.
“The introduction of the vaccine has surely given people a feeling that the pandemic will soon be something to remember,” she said, adding that dropping their guard could potentially lead to more COVID-19 deaths.
Most people are disciplined and respect instructions, but this long pandemic may have made some feel bored and, consequently, a bit careless with regard to precautionary measures.
In Jeddah, authorities have been conducting inspection tours around the city to ensure visitors to public parks, seafront locations, and shops stick to health and safety regulations.
On its Twitter account, the municipality said its teams had carried out 4,049 checks, while also confiscating 30 tons of vegetables and food of unknown origin being sold by street vendors.
In addition, municipality officials recorded 38 violations of precautionary measures among weekend seafront picnickers after having made 337 inspection tours in the area. In a statement, the municipality said it had stepped up and would continue its efforts to ensure rules on social distancing, public gatherings, and the wearing of face masks were being adhered to.
“These efforts come as part of the municipality’s plans to utilize its apparatus and equipment to regularly clean parks and disinfect seating areas, waste containers, and children’s playing zones.”
The statement added that anyone wishing to report suspected violations of COVID-19 health and safety measures could call 940.