Coronavirus: Bahrain one of first nations to ease lockdown as malls reopen

People wearing masks seen in the heart of the Bahraini capital Manama. (File photo: AFP)

Bahrain announced that shopping malls and some stores will reopen on April 9, joining only a few countries worldwide in loosening restrictions imposed to slow the spread of novel coronavirus.

Shop workers and customers will be required to wear masks while they are in the stores, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism said.

Retailers must also control the number of people in shops at any one time to prevent overcrowding, and ensure that surfaces are disinfected regularly, the ministry added.

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Read more: Coronavirus: Which countries will re-open first?

Seef Properties, the leading property management company in Bahrain, announced that it would reopen all stores at its malls, including all shops at Seef Mall in the Seef district, Seef Mall in the city of Muharraq, and Seef Mall in Isa Town.

The decision comes as the number of coronavirus cases in Bahrain rose to 823 with five virus-related deaths.

Bahrain was among the first countries in the Arabian Gulf to enforce strict restrictions, including closing all movie theaters, gyms, public swimming pools, and theme parks on March 18.

The restrictions seem to have slowed down the rate of infection, with the number of new cases falling in recent days.

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A vendor distributes protective face masks in Manama before restrictions on travel and businesses were imposed. (File photo: Reuters)

A vendor distributes protective face masks in Manama before restrictions on travel and businesses were imposed. (File photo: Reuters)

Everyone must wear a mask in public starting from April 9, the Ministry of Health said, adding that violators will be fined 10,000 Bahraini dinars ($26, 518) and could face a three-month jail term.

Gyms, public swimming pools, shisha cafes, beauty parlors, and entertainment parks will be closed until April 23, the health ministry announced.

Supermarkets and food stores must still designate their first opening hour to the elderly and pregnant women to minimize their risk of infection.

Public gatherings over more than five people are also prohibited, and everyone is urged to stay at home unless absolutely necessary, the ministry added.

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Last Update: 11:06 KSA 14:06 - GMT 11:06
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