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Saudi Arabia eliminates masks and social distancing in public

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Kingdom relaxes Covid-19 measures after decline in coronavirus rates

Saudi Arabia removed the requirement to wears masks and observe social distancing in public on Sunday, after a decline in the number of coronavirus infections.

So far, more than 20.6 million of the country‘s 34.8 million population have been vaccinated.

People will now no longer need to wear masks or maintain social distancing while using public transport.

“This is great news,” said Naushad Mohammed, a British citizen living in the kingdom.

“Saudi Arabia has done an impressive and tremendous job in taking care of its people, be it residents or citizens during the pandemic. We were all given free medical care and vaccines and are really lucky to have been here during the pandemic. I am glad we are turning a new chapter and hope the world can go back to normal.”

The Grand Mosque in Makkah started receiving pilgrims at full capacity on Sunday, with workers removing social distancing stickers around the mosque.

“The Grand Mosque is preparing for the dawn prayer today, with its full capacity and without distancing,” an official in Makkah said.

However, pilgrims will need to wear masks and use the Tawakkalna application to verify their immunity status at the entrances of the two holy mosques.

“Starting today, the Ministry of Sports facilities will receive sports fans at their full capacity,” state media reported. Cafes, malls, wedding halls, cinemas, and restaurants will also host guests at full capacity without social distancing.

Arwa Bashaen, a Saudi citizen, said: “Honestly I am so relieved to hear that we can finally resume our daily lives without the use of masks and social distancing. We haven’t been able to host a wedding in the family because we wanted all our loved ones to be there. This has just made our family so happy.”

Parents are hoping schools in the kingdom will allow primary school students to join classes starting next week.

“Since everything is open, I hope the same applies to schools too,” said Ayesha Abdullah, a Saudi citizen living in Jeddah.

“So far, only high schools are taking children back. I hope my children, aged 4 and 6 can resume classes in school starting next week as per what we were told.”

Vaccine rules

Only students with both doses of a vaccine were allowed to go back to classrooms in August, after schools shut down last year because of the pandemic.

Saudi Arabia reopened its borders to travellers in May this year. Only adults who have received both doses of a vaccine, or one dose 14 days before the date of departure, are allowed to travel outside the country. In August, authorities allowed vaccinated tourists into the country without the need for quarantine.

Travellers must have had two doses of vaccines approved by the kingdom, which include those produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca and Moderna.

Those inoculated with Sinopharm or Sinovac shots, which are also approved, can enter Saudi Arabia if they have also had a booster dose of another approved vaccine.

So far, 44.4 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia recorded two deaths and 45 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday.

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