COVID-19: Saudi Arabia to end curfew on June 21
Saudi Arabia will begin easing restrictions on movement and travel this week, more than two months after strict measures were introduced to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Restrictions will be lifted in three phases, culminating in the curfew completely ending, with the exception of the holy city of Mecca, from 21 June, the kingdom’s state news agency reported in a statement early on Tuesday.
Other Gulf countries also moved to ease their lockdown measures, which together with a collapse in oil prices have pushed the region into its worst economic crisis in decades.
The round-the-clock curfew will remain in force in Mecca and is only expected to be reduced from June 21, when curfew time will be changed to 3pm-6am, and prayers will be allowed in mosques.
The Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages, which usually attract millions from around the world, will remain suspended.
Prayers will only be allowed to resume in mosques from 21 June.
The kingdom has so far recorded 74,795 cases of COVID-19 with 399 deaths. More than 2,000 cases are still being reported daily.
Domestic flights will be allowed to resume, but a ban on international flights will stay.
Public and private sector employees will be allowed to return to their offices.
Saudi Citizens and residents will still be urged to wear masks in public and continue hygiene and social distancing measures after 21 June.
Saudi Arabia’s central bank foreign exchange reserves fell in March at their fastest rate in at least 20 years, hitting their lowest level since 2011, while the kingdom slipped to a $9 billion budget deficit in the first quarter as oil revenue collapsed.
Free movement between regions and some retail and wholesale activities, including shopping centers, will be allowed to resume.