Saudi Arabia to lift nationwide curfew, resume economic activities from Sunday

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will end a nationwide curfew and lift restrictions on businesses from Sunday morning after three months of lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, state news agency SPA quoted a source in the interior ministry as saying on Saturday.

The curfew will be lifted as of 6 AM local time on Sunday. Restrictions will remain, however, for religious pilgrimages, international travel and social gatherings of more than 50 people.

The kingdom introduced stringent measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in March, including 24-hour curfews on most towns and cities.

In May, it announced a three-phase plan to ease restrictions on movement and travel, culminating in the curfew completely ending on June 21.

The number of coronavirus infections has risen in recent weeks following a relaxation of movement and travel restrictions on May 28.

The kingdom has recorded 154,223 cases of COVID-19 and a total of 1,230 deaths, the highest in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.

Saudi Arabia plans to limit numbers at the annual haj pilgrimage to prevent a further outbreak of coronavirus cases, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier this month.

Some 2.5 million pilgrims visit the holiest sites of Islam in Mecca and Medina for the week-long haj, a once-in-a-lifetime duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it. Saudi Arabia asked Muslims in March to put haj plans on hold and suspended the umrah pilgrimage until further notice. — Reuters

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