Saudis welcome COVID-19 rule changes on social gatherings

Saudis welcome COVID-19 rule changes on social gatherings
Face masks will no longer be mandatory in outdoor settings, except for certain locations including the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque. (Reuters)
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Updated 17 October 2021

Saudis welcome COVID-19 rule changes on social gatherings

Saudis welcome COVID-19 rule changes on social gatherings
  • Social distancing will no longer be mandatory at social gatherings or in public settings including transport, restaurants, and cinemas

JEDDAH: The generous Saudi spirit has been sorely missed because of COVID-19 restrictions. Weddings, social gatherings, and parties had capacity limits, at times they were banned altogether, due to the spread of the disease.

For the longest time, people felt what functions they were able to have were lifeless and lacking their usual energy because of the cap on numbers and other anti-coronavirus measures.

But with more than 20 million people fully vaccinated and the Kingdom’s immunization campaign continuing at pace, not to mention an Interior Ministry announcement of a change in the rules, gatherings and get-togethers will be making a comeback after more than 18 months of curbs and lockdowns.

The ministry said on Friday the decision was based on the recommendation of health authorities, with precautionary measures on attendance, face masks and social distancing changing from this Sunday, Oct. 17.

There was a sigh of relief from retired school principal Hamid Sadiq Al-Bakri upon hearing the announcement. He had already prepared everything for his son’s wedding party — with a limited number of guests — set to be held next week at one of Jeddah’s wedding halls.

“I feel I’m on top of the world after hearing this decision as it means that my country has succeeded in confronting the unseen enemy of coronavirus,” he told Arab News. “It also means that residents and citizens have been big supporters of the great efforts exerted by the government to mitigate the effects of the pandemic to the least possible levels.”

He said the decision would save him the embarrassment of inviting just a few close family members and even closer friends, as he could now invite as many people as he wanted to help him celebrate such a special occasion.

“We in Saudi Arabia feel happier when all friends and relatives attend our parties and social gatherings. The more guests we receive, the happier we are. The Arabic proverb says: ‘Paradise without people is not worth going to.’ Those who are keen to be with you at your best are those who truly appreciate you.”

Salem Al-Zahrani’s daughter married eight months ago and he had been distraught to see so few relatives attending the wedding.

“If it weren’t for the pandemic and the restricted numbers issued by the authorities, I would have invited over a hundred of my friends and relatives to attend my daughter’s wedding,” he told Arab News. “It is part of our culture that a bride is taken to her husband-to-be accompanied by as many relatives as possible. It is a source of pride to the young girl.”

He said he was lucky that his daughter was wise enough to understand the complexity of the global situation.

“The social fabric of the Saudis is very strong, and that is why we usually see big numbers celebrating a social event. During a wedding party, hosts normally offer the best food they can to honor the family of the girl and those invited.

“With the end of the restriction, Saudis will rejoice and get back to their normal social gatherings during which they can freely gather and happily rejoice. I’m certain they will be careful about their health.”

Face masks will no longer be mandatory in outdoor settings, except for certain specific locations including the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.

Social distancing will no longer be mandatory at social gatherings or in public settings including transport, restaurants, and cinemas. Wedding halls will also be allowed to return full capacity.

The new rules only apply to those who have been fully vaccinated, which is around 20.6 million people.


Saudi Arabia announces two more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces two more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 04 December 2021

Saudi Arabia announces two more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces two more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 539,011
  • A total of 8,842 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced two deaths from COVID-19 and 29 new infections on Saturday.

Of the new cases, nine were recorded in Riyadh, seven in  Jeddah, three in Makkah, two in Taif, and two in Dhahran. Several other cities recorded one new case each.

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 539,011 after 21 more patients recovered from the virus.

A total of 8,842 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.

Over 47.6 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


French President Macron meets Saudi crown prince in final Gulf stop

French President Macron meets Saudi crown prince in final Gulf stop
Updated 58 min 40 sec ago

French President Macron meets Saudi crown prince in final Gulf stop

French President Macron meets Saudi crown prince in final Gulf stop

RIYADH: French President Emmanuel Macron met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah on Saturday .

The two leaders dicussed bilateral cooperation and issues of interest in the region, and the crown prince hosted a working lunch for the president.

The lunch was also attended by the Crown Prince of Bahrain Prince Salman bin Hamad.

Macron arrived in Jeddah earlier and was received at the airport by Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, governor of Makkah and royal advisor. 

The visit is part of Macron’s Gulf tour, during which he is visiting Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar between Dec. 3 and 4. 

Saudi and French firms are expected to discuss cooperation in several fields including energy, finance and tourism.  

Speaking to the press in Dubai, Macron said Saudi Arabia, the most populated and most powerful country in the Gulf, held the key to preserving peace and stability in the Middle East, and also in the French endeavor to assist Lebanon.


Saudi aid agency discusses education efforts at UN conference

Dr. Hana Salem highlighted the efforts made by Saudi Arabia  to support education. (SPA)
Dr. Hana Salem highlighted the efforts made by Saudi Arabia to support education. (SPA)
Updated 04 December 2021

Saudi aid agency discusses education efforts at UN conference

Dr. Hana Salem highlighted the efforts made by Saudi Arabia  to support education. (SPA)
  • The conference tackled the importance of improving the quality of education, spreading knowledge, exchanging experiences and innovation in times of crisis

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center recently participated virtually in the “Leaving No One Behind: Benefiting from Innovation to Access Quality Education and Information” conference.

This comes within the framework of the annual program “Innovate Now … Live Tomorrow” and the Regional Digital Inclusion Week for Arab States organized by the International Telecommunication Union and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Speakers from the regional offices of UNESCO and concerned authorities participated in the two-day conference.

During the conference, KSrelief was represented by the director of the community support department, Dr. Hana Salem, who highlighted the efforts made by the Kingdom to support education — 89 educational projects were presented in more than 14 countries, at a budget amounting to nearly $200 million.

She touched on the educational projects provided during the coronavirus disease pandemic, indicating that the center works closely with local and international organizations to meet people’s needs and search for appropriate and sustainable solutions to ensure access to education.

She also stressed the center’s keenness to support innovation in educational projects.

For his part, the head of initiatives at the International Telecommunication Union, Alex Wong, discussed the Giga initiative, which aims to connect every school to the internet and ensure access to education for every child.

The conference tackled the importance of improving the quality of education, spreading knowledge, exchanging experiences and innovation in times of crisis, especially in light of the challenges the world is witnessing during the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on education.

It also touched on the use of artificial intelligence systems in education and intellectual property rights and the importance of developing educational cadres to keep pace with the need in digital education.


Saudi health minister reviews new omicron COVID-19 variant

Saudi health minister reviews new omicron COVID-19 variant. (SPA)
Saudi health minister reviews new omicron COVID-19 variant. (SPA)
Updated 04 December 2021

Saudi health minister reviews new omicron COVID-19 variant

Saudi health minister reviews new omicron COVID-19 variant. (SPA)
  • Having a fully vaccinated status on the app allows people to take part in any social and commercial activities

RIYADH: The committee in charge of implementing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia has held its 283rd meeting, chaired by Minister of Health Fahd Al-Jalajel.
During the meeting, which involved 25 government bodies, the participants reviewed the situation regarding the new omicron COVID-19 variant.
As of Feb. 1 next year, all those above the age of 18 will need a booster jab to keep their fully vaccinated status on the Tawakkalna application, an Interior Ministry source said.
Having a fully vaccinated status on the app allows people to take part in economic, commercial, cultural, sports or tourist activities, attend any cultural, scientific, social or recreational event, enter any government or private establishment, and travel on planes and public transport.
Those exempt from taking the vaccine against coronavirus as listed on the app do not need to take the booster dose.
The source stressed the need for everyone to adhere to all preventive measures and approved health protocols.

 


Saudi Arabia registers 1 COVID-19 death, 38 new infections

A person receives a dose of the Pfizer coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination site at the Westfield shopping centre in London, Britain, December 3, 2021. (REUTERS)
A person receives a dose of the Pfizer coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination site at the Westfield shopping centre in London, Britain, December 3, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 04 December 2021

Saudi Arabia registers 1 COVID-19 death, 38 new infections

A person receives a dose of the Pfizer coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination site at the Westfield shopping centre in London, Britain, December 3, 2021. (REUTERS)
  • More than 22.5 million people have been fully vaccinated in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia confirmed one new COVID-19-related death on Friday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,840.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 38 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 549,848 people have now contracted the disease. Of the current cases, 41 remain in critical condition.
The ministry also announced that 24 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 538,990. More than 47.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign started. More than 22.5 million people have been fully vaccinated.
The ministry, which has 587 centers throughout the Kingdom dealing with inoculations, has urged citizens who have not yet received a vaccine to get one.
It also renewed calls for people to adhere to precautionary measures and register with the Sehhaty app to receive vaccines.
Meanwhile, testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have helped millions of people since the pandemic outbreak.
Taakad centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or only mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual, while Tetamman clinics offer treatment to those with virus symptoms such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties.