Coronavirus: Global situation

Saudi Arabia eases restrictions as number of daily cases falls below 100

RIYADH • Saudi Arabia started on Sunday to ease precautionary measures against Covid-19 as the number of daily cases fell to below 100, Xinhua news agency reported.

The General Authority of Civil Aviation also announced the operation of all airports at full capacity, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Meanwhile, the kingdom will continue to monitor the immunisation status of travellers.

From Sunday, the wearing of masks is no longer obligatory in open-air places.

The easing of curbs also includes cancelling social distancing rules and allowing full capacity in gatherings, public places, restaurants, and cinemas.

The kingdom has been seeing fewer than 100 new cases daily.

The Saudi health authorities attributed the reduction of new cases to the nationwide vaccination campaign and steps to limit the spread of the virus. The Saudi Gazzette reported last Saturday that total infections were at 547,890 and total deaths at 8,760. There were 110 cases in critical condition on Saturday.

At the Grand Mosque in Mecca, workers removed floor markings that guide people to social distance in and around the place of worship, which is built around the Kaaba, the black cubic structure towards which Muslims around the world pray, AFP reported.

"This is in line with the decision to ease precautionary measures and to allow pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Mosque at full capacity," reported the official Saudi Press Agency.

Pictures and footage on Sunday morning showed people praying side by side, making straight rows of worshippers. These are formations revered in performing Muslim prayers, and was allowed for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold last year.

The Saudi Health Ministry said it will continue to monitor the situation and decide if there is a need to tighten preventive measures in case of an increase in hospitalised Covid-19 cases, including patients in the ICU, Xinhua reported.

Saudi Arabia this year barred, for the second year running, overseas Muslim pilgrims from performing the haj due to the pandemic.

XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2021, with the headline 'Saudi Arabia eases restrictions as number of daily cases falls below 100'. Subscribe