Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia allows outdoor exercise, internal travel as lockdown eases

Women walk in Saudi Arabia, where a temporary lockdown was imposed. (File photo: Reuters)

Saudi Arabia has lifted some restrictions on movement for residents within the country and is now allowing travel between its provinces in a partial easing of its coronavirus lockdown, the Ministry of Interior announced on Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Kingdom announced it would be entering a new phase of its coronavirus strategy on May 28. Today, the ministry confirmed that the new strategy had been put into place, lifting some of the restrictions imposed in lockdown.

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From May 28 until May 30, residents with permits from the "Tawakkalna" app will be allowed to move between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. throughout the Kingdom, except Mecca.

The move also allows residents to travel between provinces in private vehicles within non-curfew hours.

More shops, including wholesale, retail and malls, will also be allowed to reopen in a further lifting of the lockdown restrictions, as long as all precautionary measures are adhered to.

All activities that don't allow social distancing remain banned until further notice.

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Saudi Arabia enters new stage

The lifting of restrictions is in line with the plan explained by the Minister of Health Tawfiq bin Fawzan al-Rabiah on Monday.

Saudi Arabia's first stage of easing restrictions will last from May 28 to May 30, he said.

During this stage, movement will be allowed between the hours of 6 a.m. to 3 p.m, except in Mecca. Residents who wish to leave their homes are required to download the the "Tawakkalna" app and apply for a permit.

Retail wholesale shops and malls are also allowed to open for retail activities, in line with guidelines.

Social distancing must be adhered to for all of these actions.

May 31: Second stage

On May 31, the Kingdom is set to enter the second stage of its easing of restrictions.

From May 31 to June 20, residents are free to move within the longer hours of 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Unlike in the first stage, Friday prayers and all congregational prayers (Jamaa'a) will be allowed in the Kingdom's mosques, except mosques in Mecca.

Domestic flights and cross-province travel by any mode of transport will also be allowed.

Likewise, the restriction on workplace attendance will be lifted, with residents able to go back to work as long as their offices follow strict precautionary guidelines.

From June 21 onwards, Saudi Arabia aims to return to 'normalcy' except in Mecca. However, the Umrah and Hajj pilgrimages will continue to be suspended, as will international flights, until further review.

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Last Update: Thursday, 28 May 2020 KSA 07:59 - GMT 04:59
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