Published: 2020-05-26 14:00
Last Updated: 2020-05-26 14:30
Saudi Arabia will start easing the coronavirus restrictions on movement this week and lift the restrictions across the country, with the exception of the holy city of Mecca, from June 21, Al Jazeera reported.
In the first phase, which starts on Thursday, the 24-hour curfew will be revised to 3 pm-6 am with bans on domestic travel, holding prayers in mosques, and workplace attendance in both the government and private sector lifted from May 31.
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 3 pm-6 am, and prayers will be allowed in mosques.
The Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages, which usually attract millions from around the world, will remain suspended.
According to the government, physical distancing guidelines are still required, while gatherings of more than 50 people will remain banned.
Some economic and commercial activities will also be allowed, including those at wholesale and retail shops, as well as shopping centers and cafes.
However, other businesses such as beauty salons, barbershops, sports and health clubs, recreational centers and cinemas will remain closed because of the difficulty in imposing physical distancing rules.
Saudi Arabia first imposed a temporary lockdown in early March on its eastern Qatif area, home to a large Shia Muslim population, to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The unprecedented lockdown was later expanded to other parts of the country including the two holiest sites of Islam.
Saudi Arabia announced in April that the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina would remain closed throughout Ramadan, which ended on Saturday, May 23.
But because of coronavirus, almost all Muslim-majority countries have closed mosques and asked people to pray at home, in addition to imposing curfews to limit the spread of the deadly virus.