RIYADH, May 26: Saudi Arabia has announced a phased-out plan to end novel coronavirus lockdown and restore pre-pandemic normal life in the Kingdom.
According to the plan, disclosed early Tuesday by the Saudi Interior Ministry, the 24-hour nationwide curfew will be eased as of Thursday May 28, except for the holy city of Makkah which is hard hit by the deadly virus.
The easing will mean the 24-hour lockdown will be relaxed with a curfew from 3:00 p.m to 6:00 a.m local time until Sunday May 31, after which the curfew hours will change to 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m local time until June 20.
On June 21, the curfew will be lifted completely for all regions except for Makkah which will remain under full lockdown until further notice.
As of May 31, staff of the government bodies and private sector companies will return to work, internal flights will be resumed and mosques will reopen.
Also almost all economic and commercial activities will return to pre-coronavirus restrictions with just a few exceptions for businesses where social distancing rules will be difficult to enforce such as beauty salons, barbershops, sports and health clubs, recreational centers and cinemas.
It stressed that social distancing guidelines must be implemented and gatherings of more than 50 people will continue to be banned.
Umrah pilgrimage and international flights will continue to be suspended until further notice.
The interior ministry pointed out that the new rules are subject to constant evaluation from the health ministry and can be changed according to developments.
The Kingdom recorded 2,235 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, taking the total to 74,795, and the death toll rose by nine to 399 (KUNA)