Mosques in Saudi to open, umrah still suspended

Jeddah during curfew implementation. (Saudi Press Agency)

Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – Saudi Arabia has decided to ease restrictions to restart a number of economic and commercial activities, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday quoting an official source at the Ministry of the Interior.

The move allows the reopening of domestic flights, mosques, restaurants and cafes, as well as offices.

However, the suspension of the umrah pilgrimage remains in force.

The easing of restrictions will be carried out in stages beginning on Thursday (May 28) and ending on May 30.

In the first phase, the people’s mobilities with private cars in all regions of the Kingdom will be allowed from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. except in Makkah. Economic and commercial activities will resume in retail and wholesale shops and malls but beauty salons, barber shops, sports clubs, health clubs, entertainment centres and cinemas will remain closed for social distancing rules.

In the second phase which will begin on May 31 and end on June 20, the movement is allowed from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. in all areas of the Kingdom, except Makkah. All congregational prayers, including Friday prayers, will resume in all mosques across the Kingdom except those in Makkah.

The suspended presence at workplaces will end, allowing all employees in the ministries, the government entities and the private companies to return to working from their offices provided that they follow strict precautionary guidelines.

The suspension on travel between regions in the Kingdom using various transport methods will no longer be in place. Airlines will be allowed to operate domestic flights if they adhere to precautionary measures set by the civil aviation authority and the Ministry of Health. The suspension of international flights, will, however, continue until further notice.

Restaurants and cafes serving food and beverages can reopen, however, beauty salons, barber shops, sports clubs, health clubs, entertainment centers and cinemas will be barred from reopening in the second phase. The ban on social gatherings of more than fifty people, such as weddings and funerals will also continue to remain in force.

In the third phase commencing on June 21, the Kingdom will return to “normal” conditions as it was before the Coronavirus lockdown measures were implemented.

Meanwhile in Makkah, the first phase measures will be implemented between May 31 to June 20 and the second phase will begin on May 21. Friday prayers and all congregational prayers will continue to be held in the Grand Mosque, only to be attended by Imams and the employees.

Reporting by Indonesia Window

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