After weeks of imposing a 24-hour curfew in most cities, Saudi Arabia has laid out a three-phase plan for easing of restrictions and a return to normality, following a strict lockdown during the five-day Eid break.
Phase 1, which includes a curfew applied from 3:00pm to 6:00am, will end on 30 May.
Phase 2 commences from 31 May and will end on 20 June, with a shorter curfew from 8:00pm until 6:00 am and a further easing of restrictions, including travel between cities in the Kingdom and the resumption of domestic flights. Gatherings of up to 50 people, wholesale, retail and malls will be allowed to operate within those hours. With due consideration given to social distancing and preventative health measures, life is expected to return to normal in the country during Phase 3, which will begin on 21 June.
The easing of restrictions applies to all cities across the Kingdom except for the holy city of Makkah, which will follow a slower return. Further details can be found here. The Ministry of Human Resources has laid out a plan for the return to work of no less than 50% of public sector workers on 31 May. This will increase to no less than 75% on 7 June, and full workforces are expected to return to offices by 21 June.
The Ministry of Transport has announced the resumption of public transport services, with vehicle guiding acts now installed. They can operate in non-lockdown cities during the permitted periods and deliver orders using delivery apps. The suspension of international flights is still in effect until further notice. However, Saudi Arabia will allow residents with valid visas to travel back to their home countries as part of an initiative called Awdah (ireturn). Residents who wish to return to their home countries can submit an application on the Absher online platform. Surveys reveal that the virus is taken seriously by people in Saudi Arabia, with residents doubting a return to normal within the coming months. The majority expect to continue wearing face masks even after the pandemic is over.