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In the Middle East, lockdown is gradually becoming less stringent

At a time when the world economy is suffering severely from the health crisis and much of the world is living under lockdown as part of the fight against the spread of coronavirus, some nations have begun a gradual easing of containment rules in hopes of restarting their economic activity. This has been the case on the Arabian Peninsula since Monday.

Saudi Arabia reopens its shops

Since Wednesday, Saudi retail stores and shopping malls have reopened their doors to the public with a fixed schedule: from 9am to 5pm. However, a strict set of rules has been put in place to reduce the risk of contamination by Covid-19. Shoppers must submit to temperature controls at the entrance to the stores, and customers are prohibited from entering if their temperature is above 38°C.

“Commercial enterprises are required to carry out temperature checks for their customers and workers before working hours, prohibit testing for cosmetics and perfumes, close elevators and apply floor markings to indicate social distancing measures,” said Ministry of Trade and Investment spokesman Abdulrahman Al-Hussein.

UAE malls reopen without customers

Essential in UAE’s economic and social life, shopping centres in Abu Dhabi and Dubai opened on Wednesday, but few customers have used them. Despite the measures put in place to protect the public from the spread of Covid-19, few people flocked to the famous “malls”.

The health crisis has hit UAE stores hard, forcing many of them to relocate their operations online to cushion the losses. Despite the easing of containment rules in the UAE, it is likely that people are still reluctant to travel for non-essential purchases.

Traffic and economic activity restored in Jordan

Last March, by a decree of King Abdullah II, Jordan and its 10 million inhabitants were confined for 40 days, with a driving ban and the deployment of the army on the streets to enforce the curfew. Since Monday, Jordanians can finally go outside, take their vehicles and resume their professional activities since most businesses have reopened their offices.

However, the government has warned that it could re-establish strict confinement if the health situation worsens. “Relaxing measures depends on the degree of compliance, and if people and companies do not respect the rules, we will unfortunately return to closures and strict measures,” said Jordanian Media Minister Amjad Adaileh.