In this photo shows the Kaaba in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. File photo
Saudi Arabia eased curfews on Sunday across the country, while keeping 24-hour curfews in the city of Makkah and in neighbourhoods previously put in isolation, state news agency SPA said.
Outside those exceptional areas, curfews will be eased between 9am and 5pm (0600-1400 GMT) effective on Sunday until May 13. The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan began on Friday.
The royal order also allowed some economic and commercial activities to re-start, including wholesale and retail shops and shopping malls, from Wednesday until May 13.
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Activities which do not allow for physical distancing, including salons and cinemas, will remain closed. Social gatherings of more than five people are forbidden.
Authorities in the capital Riyadh issued additional advice saying banknotes were not to be used.
Shops that do open should ensure no more than one customer per 10 square metres. Malls must be sterilised every 24 hours and children under 15 are not allowed to enter.
Saudi Arabia has recorded 16,299 cases of infection with the new coronavirus and 136 deaths. These are the highest numbers in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which together have recorded almost 43,000 cases and 250 deaths.
The ministry urged the pilgrim to obtain an approved and negative laboratory examination for the coronavirus 72 hours before the arrival in the Kingdom.
Some 1,500 holy sites are preparing to welcome visitors, the channel reported, showing footage of workers disinfecting floors and carpets. The decision comes weeks before the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Makkah.
Saudis began tentatively returning to shopping malls and open-air markets on Wednesday after authorities relaxed restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Gulf visitors are highly valuable to the UK economy, with over 790,000 Gulf visitors spending £2 billion during their stays in the UK last year.
The Air India Express that carried passengers to Jeddah from Kozhikode on Thursday night was extra-special, because an all-woman crew manned the flight with 145 female pilgrims on board.
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