Tue, 31 Mar 2020

Saudi Arabia reported its second coronavirus death and tightened a nationwide curfew, barring entry to and exit from the capital Riyadh and the holy cities of Mecca and Medina as well as movement between all provinces from on Wednesday.

The orders, approved by King Salman and published by state media, also brought forward the start of curfew in the three cities to 15:00 from 19:00 starting on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia introduced the 21-day curfew on Monday after registering a jump in infections. Its second death was that of a 46-year-old foreign resident in Mecca among 133 new cases taking the total to 900.

Flights

Oil engineer Jamie Richardson had been due to return to the United Kingdom on Wednesday for a new job, but late on Tuesday, Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports announced flights would stop that night.

"It's proper stressful. You have no idea what is going on," he said.

Saudi Arabia has taken rigorous steps to contain the outbreak, also including halting international flights as well as suspending the Umrah year-round pilgrimage and closing mosques, schools, malls and restaurants.

The curfew and other restrictions have altered the rhythm of daily life in the country of some 30 million, many of whom enjoy late-night gatherings at coffee shops or private homes.

Turkish resident Nasif Erisik, who plays cards most nights with friends at one of their homes, said the group has resorted to online gaming to keep in touch.

"Corona has ... changed our habits and everything in our lives," said Erisik.

The authorities say they will fine or jail curfew-breakers and those encouraging violations.

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