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.
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.
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.
Restrictions will be lifted in three phases, culminating in the curfew completely ending — with the exception of the holy city of Makkah — from June 21, the state news agency reported in a statement early on Tuesday.
With India’s 1.3 billion people under lockdown, a third of the planet — some 2.9 billion people according to an AFP tally — is now under orders to stay home, and this certainly is one of the most challenging periods for humanity.
Pakistan also reported 4,734 new virus cases, raising its overall infections to 93,983. With the latest 97 virus-related deaths, the highest 24-hour increase to its fatalities, as authorities urged volunteers to motivate people to adhere to social distancing regulations to contain the spread of the virus.
With the Hajj Committee announcing full refunds of the fees for the ensuing Hajj 2020 season, the pilgrimage dreams of thousands of Muslim faithful are shattered.
The group were travelling through Badakshan province to assist security forces in the area, officials said. A local commander was among the fatalities, provincial governor's spokesman Sanaullah Rohani told the media.