Saudi Arabia on Monday (Mar 16) took more drastic measures to control the spread of COVID-19.
State news agency SPA reported on Monday citing an official source at the Ministry of Interior that commercial markets and malls will be closed, with the exception of pharmacies and food retailers such as supermarkets on condition that they commit to sterilizing shopping carts after each use.
“The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs shall announce this, follow up on its implementation and enable them to provide 24-hour service, and this procedure does not include the shops located on the commercial streets, provided that they are not within commercial complexes, and the closure of men's barber shops and women's beauty salons,” said SPA.
Service at F&B outlets will be limited only to take-away requests and customers are not allowed to dine in.
Attendance at work places in all government agencies will also be suspended for 16 days, except for the health, security, and military sectors, the Electronic Security Centre, and remote education system.
Government departments will enhance electronic transactions and activate platforms for electronic services.
The authorities are also encouraging companies, private institutions and charities to reduce the number of employees at workplaces and to promote working remotely. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development encourages continuity of “basic and sensitive work” for more vulnerable members of society, including pregnant women, and those with respiratory or cardiac diseases.
Companies and institutions are also required to implement home quarantine for 14 days from the date of arrival of all expatriate, or foreign, workers coming from outside the country.
Gatherings in public places designated for recreation, such as parks, beaches, resorts, and camps, are also discouraged.
Saudi Arabia on Sunday started suspending international flights for two weeks.
Prior to that, it gradually suspended travel of its citizens and expatriate workers to countries including those of the EU, Switzerland, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia, Oman, France, Germany, Turkey, Spain, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, South Korea, Egypt, Italy and Iraq.
On Feb 27 the Kingdom suspended all entries for umrah.
Saudi Arabia had 103 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as at Mar 15, according to World Health Organisation data.
Globally, WHO registered 153,517 confirmed cases and 5,736 deaths as at Mar 15. 72,469 confirmed cases were outside of China, with Italy hit by 21,157, Iran with 12,729, South Korea with 8,162, Spain with 5,753, France 4,469, and Germany 3,795.
Countries such as Italy, France, and Germany have already imposed compulsory lockdowns, closing schools and non-essential shops.
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