May 12, 2020

Saudi Arabia announced a five-day round-the-clock lockdown for the Eid al-Fitr holiday today to combat COVID-19.

The lockdown will begin May 23. Until then, businesses can remain open and people will be able to move freely from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Reuters reported.

Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, and will start later this week or early next week. Observers fast during the day time during the month and then have a series of feasts with friends and family for Eid.

Saudi Arabia began easing its anti-coronavirus restrictions late last month, allowing businesses to reopen and more civilian movement. However, the kingdom has since gotten stricter. Last week, the government created a new special police unit to enforce social distancing regulations that prohibit gatherings of more than five people.

The social aspect of Eid al-Fitr presents a risk of the virus spreading.

Saudi is not the only country in the region now changing course on the novel coronavirus after relaxing restrictions. Lebanon will return to a lockdown tomorrow for four days after a spike in cases. Kuwait also announced a return to a “total lockdown” last week.

Saudi Arabia has more than 42,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.

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