RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has extended a curfew imposed in the two holy cities of Makkah and Madinah on Thursday until further notice, as the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the country rises to 21.
The 24-hour curfew was announced by Interior Minister Abdul Aziz Bin Saud Al Saud and from 3pm to 6am only. The kingdom is extending the curfew as part of slew of intensified measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the interior minister said.
The minister said there are some exemptions to allow people in Makkah and Madinah to move within the minimum range and only within their neighbourhoods to buy their essentials. Eleven commercial activities will be closed in the two cities, but pharmacies, food groceries, fuel stations and banks are exempted.
He emphasised that security authorities will show no leniency towards curfew violators, calling on all community members to adhere to the new measures imposed to safeguard the safety of everyone.
The cities were earlier under a 15-hour daily curfew. The official Saudi Press Agency reported that a full 24-hour curfew in Makkah and Madinah starting from today has been imposed until further notice.
The announcement comes amid uncertainty over the Hajj which is due to take place at the end of July, after authorities this week urged Muslims to temporarily defer preparations for the annual pilgrimage.
Authorities have already sealed off Makkah and Madinah along with Riyadh and Jeddah, barring people from entering and exiting the cities as well as prohibiting movement between all provinces. Saudi Arabia has reported the highest number of infections in the Gulf and is scrambling to limit the spread of the disease at home.
The new restrictions come as the kingdom reported 165 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections to 1885. Five new deaths have also been reported over the last 24 hours increasing the death toll to 21, said Saudi Health Minister Dr Tawfiq Al Rabiah.
Do you want to read authentic news from Pakistan & across the world? So download MM News App Now !