Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior last week announced it will introduce a 24-hour lockdown and curfew across the Kingdom during the upcoming Eid holidays May 23-27.
Eid al-Fitr, which is expected to begin on May 23 pending the moon sighting, marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
But with the coronavirus pandemic forcing the government to impose a lockdown to help curb the spread of the virus, the holiday will be quite different this year.
Here’s what you need to know about Saudi Arabia’s 24-hour Eid lockdown:
How long will the lockdown last?
The lockdown is set to begin on May 23 and end on May 27, depending on when authorities announce the start of the holiday.
Will mosques reopen for Eid prayers?
Mosques will not reopen for Eid al-Fitr prayers, and a muezzin – the person appointed at a mosque to lead and recite the call to prayer – will not be making the Eid takbeerat, which is a special type of call to prayer that is only done during Eid.
The Ministry denies the news that was circulated in a newspaper and some social media news sites regarding the assignment of muezzin of mosques to pronounce the Eid takbeeraat, noting that the news is not true and the Ministry did not issue anything in this regard,— Ministry of Islamic Affairs 🇸🇦 (@Saudi_MoiaEN) May 20, 2020
However, it is permissible for Muslims to perform the Eid al-Fitr prayer at home, Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh said earlier this week.
Are Eid gatherings allowed?
While social gatherings are a common tradition during the Eid holidays, authorities have urged people to adhere to social distancing measures to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.
Gatherings of no more than five people, or gatherings with more than one family who do not live in the same household are banned, according to the Ministry of Interior.
Violators will be fined and penalized.
Are gatherings in chalets and/or farms allowed?
Gatherings in chalets and/or farms with more than one family are prohibited, the Ministry of Interior said.
For first time offenses, the host or the owner of the chalet or farm will be fined 10,000 Saudi riyals ($2,663), and 20,000 riyals for second time offenses ($5,326).
Meanwhile, attendees will be fined 5,000 riyals each ($1,331) for first time offenses, and 10,000 riyals ($2,663) for second time offenses.
For social gatherings with friends, the host will receive a 15,000 riyal ($3,994) fine on the first offense, and a 30,000 riyal fine ($7,989) for the second offense.
Meanwhile, individuals who attend gatherings hosted by friends in a chalet or farm will be fined 5,000 riyals ($1,331) the first time, and 10,000 riyals ($2,663) the second time.
Will malls remain open during Eid?
Malls and shopping centers will be closed for the Eid holiday, the Ministry of Commerce spokesman said.
While malls and shops were allowed to operate during the holy month of Ramadan, they are set to close on May 22.
The Ministry of Health urged all citizens and residents to follow precautionary measures during the holiday to help prevent the virus from spreading.