Saudi Arabia will begin easing COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, allowing gatherings and lifting some mask mandates for those who have received both vaccine doses, the interior ministry announced Friday.
Masks in open spaces will no longer be mandatory for fully-vaccinated people, although members of the public must still wear them in closed spaces and areas that are not monitored by the Tawakkalna tracing app, the ministry added in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.
Social distancing regulations will also be dropped and public places, transport, restaurants, cinemas, and other gatherings monitored by Tawakkalna will be allowed to operate at full capacity once again for people who have received both vaccine doses.
Other rules to be dropped include a cap on visitors to Mecca’s Grand Mosque. Devotees who have received both vaccine doses will now be able to visit the mosque while wearing a mask and using the Umrah tracking app.
The same rules will apply to the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.
Events in wedding halls will be allowed with no restrictions on attendance, although those involved must still comply with the remaining precautions including masks in closed spaces.
The interior ministry stated that the rules were subject to change depending on the development of the pandemic.
Different rules may also be enforced in different areas of the Kingdom depending on local infection rates.
Daily case numbers have plummeted to double-digits in recent months following a peak in late July.
Vaccination rates have increased as the authorities introduced vaccine mandates to enter certain places.
The equivalent of 67 percent of the population is now vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Our World in Data.
Saudi Arabia’s announcement comes after neighboring Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed declared that United Arab Emirates had overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, as the country welcomed visitors to the Expo 2020 Dubai world’s fair.