Saudi coronavirus curfew: Ten questions answered

Workers disinfect the ground around the Ka'ba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, in the holy city of Makkah. — Courtesy photo
Workers disinfect the ground around the Ka'ba, the cubic building at the Grand Mosque, in the holy city of Makkah. — Courtesy photo

By Muhammed Nafie

As countries around the world ramp up their efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic, Saudi Arabia has implemented several measures to slow the spread of the deadly virus, the latest being 24-hour curfews and lockdowns imposed on several cities, including the capital Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia’s health ministry has recorded 2,795 cases so far, and on Tuesday, the death toll reached 41. The Kingdom’s health minister has warned cases could number between 10,000 and 200,000 in a matter of weeks, based on four different studies conducted by Saudi and foreign experts, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday.

Here are some answers to the most common questions about coronavirus containment measures in the Kingdom.

Which cities are under 24-hour lockdowns?

A 24-hour lockdown has been imposed on the cities of Riyadh, Tabuk, Dammam, Dhahran, and Hofuf and throughout the governorates of Jeddah, Taif, Qatif, and Khobar.

The government had already imposed a full lockdown on the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. Entry to and prayer in the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah have been halted until further notice.

Are there restrictions in other cities?

In other cities and governorates, a curfew is in place from 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. beginning Wednesday.

Will pharmacies and grocery stores be closed?

Pharmacies, medical centers, grocery stores, and a handful of other essential services are exempted from the curfew.

What other essential services will be available?

Laundry, plumbing, electricity, air-conditioning, and water sanitation services are allowed to operate. Fuel stations and vehicle maintenance services inside fuel stations will still operate.

Are other workers exempt from the curfew?

Medical staff, security personnel, and media are exempt from restrictions.

What if someone needs to go out for essential services?

People can leave their homes to buy medicine or food , but must do so inside their residential area between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Can an entire family go to the grocery store together?

Only one person from each household, in addition to the driver, is allowed to move during the above-mentioned time.

Are food delivery services allowed?

Restaurants can do home deliveries until 10 p.m. in all the regions of the Kingdom. Food trucks as well as party and banquet restaurants are not allowed to operate.

Are farming and agricultural services exempted from the curfew?

Those working in the farming industry, including those in the livestock, beekeeping, poultry, and fish industry can still work with a valid permit issued by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture. The permit is valid for a one-week period.

Can charitable societies and volunteers work?

Charitable societies, volunteers, and neighborhood centers are exempt from the curfew from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. -- Al Arabiya English