Saudi Arabia to Ease Virus Restrictions, Return to Normal by June 21

Streets are deserted amid curfew imposed over the coronavirus in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)

King Salman bin Abdulaziz approved on Monday the easing of restrictions imposed over the coronavirus outbreak.

Lifting restrictions will take three phases, culminating in the curfew completely ending – with the exception of the holy city of Makkah — from June 21, the state news agency reported in a statement early on Tuesday.

The Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages — which attract millions of travelers from around the world — will remain suspended until further notice.

The Kingdom has so far recorded 74,795 cases of COVID-19 with 399 deaths.

The first phase, starting on Thursday, will see the 24-hour curfew reduced to between 3 pm-6 am countrywide.

Free movement between regions and some retail and wholesale activities, including malls, will resume.

Saudi Arabia had imposed 24-hour curfews on most towns and cities but eased them for the start of the fasting month of Ramadan. The 24-hour curfew reimposed during the five-day Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday, which began on Sunday.

From Sunday May 30, free movement will be allowed between 6 am and 8 pm, the Saudi Press Agency reported. Domestic flights will resume, but a ban on international flights will stay.

Mosques can hold prayers once again, subject to social distancing and hygiene measures, except for in Makkah where restrictions on attendance will stay in place.

Public and private sector employees will return to their offices.

Social gatherings of more than 50 people will still be banned, including weddings and funerals.

Citizens will still have to wear masks in public and continue hygiene and social distancing measures after June 21.

Makkah will stay one phase behind the rest of the country, with curfew times adjusted to 3 pm-6 am until June 20, revised up to 8 pm thereafter. Prayers will only resume in mosques from June 21.