JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Interior will tighten travel restrictions between the country’s 13 regions from Thursday 3 p.m. as the number of confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases reaches 900.
A second death from the virus was confirmed on Wednesday.
The additional measures prevent entering and leaving the cities of Riyadh, Makkah and Madinah, with longer curfew hours imposed on all three cities.
The new curfew will start at 3 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.
These movement restrictions do not include groups previously exempt from the curfew. For more information about excluded groups, people can call 999, while residents of Makkah region can call 911.
Ministry of Interior spokesperson Col. Talal Al-Shalhoub said that there is a high level of commitment to the curfew instructions across the country.
“Everyone works for the good of the country, we are taking incremental steps according to the current critical situation.”
Al-Shalhoub added that security control centers on primary and secondary roads across the Kingdom will be responsible for enforcing the new measure.
Fines are applicable on drivers, not vehicles, he said, beginning from SR10,000 ($2,665). Repeat offenders could be sent to jail for up to 20 days.
Al-Shalhoub also warned people of producing, sending or sharing any photos or videos of violations of the newly imposed curfew order as instructed by the Public Prosecution. He said that five people violating the curfew order had already been detected.
Violators will be charged under Article 6 of the Anti-Cyber Crime Law, which stipulates a fine of up to SR3 million and five years in prison. The punishment will be applied to violators, not informers or whistleblowers.
Saudi Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said the ministry’s measurements had significantly limited the number of cases caused by contact with recent arrivals to the country.
“If recently arrived passengers were not quarantined, the infection chain would have reached more than 4,000 cases, and 200 to 300 confirmed cases,” Al-Aly said during the daily COVID-19 press conference on Wednesday.
The Health Ministry confirmed the second death caused by COVID-19, a 46-year-old resident of Makkah.
The spokesman also announced 133 new cases infected with the virus, brining the total number of confirmed cases in the Kingdom to 900.
Eighteen of the cases were related to travel and have been quarantined, while the other 115 cases had direct contact with previously announced cases.
All cases are being kept under the ministry’s supervision, with four cases in critical situation.
One case recovered, he said, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 29.
Al-Aly also addressed popular videos on social media of crowds in supermarkets and urged people to avoid them as much as possible.
“Always change your destination and shop elsewhere. Better yet, use delivery applications to get what you need to your house.”
The Health Ministry encouraged anyone with symptoms or questions to contact the ministry’s hotline 937 or download its app “Mawid” to check for symptoms.