In Saudi Arabia, the Covid-19 epidemic is stubborn. While the deconfinement process began at the end of May, notably with the reopening of the mosques, the rate of spread of the disease shows no sign of slowing down. On the contrary: for the past three days, the number of daily contaminations has exceeded 3,000, a figure never reached before. The symbolic milestone of 100,000 cases was crossed on Sunday, making Saudi Arabia the country in the Arab world most affected by the pandemic.
The number of deaths is also increasing sharply, with more than 30 deaths per day for a week, while the average was around twenty at the beginning of the month. Tuesday, June 9, there were a total of 105,283 people infected, 746 deaths and 74,524 healings in the kingdom. These statistics take the authorities in Riyadh wrong. The Crown, impatient to turn the page on an epidemic which, coupled with the collapse in oil prices, had a disastrous impact on the local economy, finds itself forced to re-impose restrictions.
Mandatory mask in public
The curfew, which had been lifted on May 31 throughout the country between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., with the exception of the holy city of Mecca, was reinstated on Friday, June 5 from 3 p.m. in Jeddah on large port on the Red Sea, where the intensive care units are saturated. The officials, who had been back at their workplace for barely a week, were sent back to their homes and prayers in the mosques were again suspended.
Monday, June 8, further brake on the strategy of deconfinement: after employees of mosques were tested and found positive for Covid-19, 70 additional places of worship were closed. These containment measures could be extended to the capital, Riyadh, due to“A continuous increase in the last few days” critical cases according to the interior ministry.
The lifting of the restrictions was intended to be prudent. In mosques, to minimize the risk of contamination, copies of the Koran, traditionally available to believers, had to be removed. The faithful had to perform their ablutions – a purification ritual – at their home, bring their own prayer mat and keep a distance of at least 2.5 meters.
As a precaution, the government also ordered that the mosques close their doors ten minutes after the end of the prayer and that the Friday sermon should not last more than a quarter of an hour. A fine of 1,000 riyals (235 euros) is provided for those who refuse to wear a mask, which is compulsory in public. On Twitter, the ministry of health even specified, for the Saudi women, that the niqab (veil covering the face except the eyes) could only serve as a mask if it was made up of several layers of tissue, securely held over the mouth and nose.
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