Saudi Arabia calls on public to ‘act responsibly’ to avoid Covid-19 lockdown

Cases have been steadily rising, but authorities are getting tough on rule-breakers

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Saudi Arabia can avoid another lockdown if people work together and follow the rules, the kingdom's Health Ministry said on Sunday.

Authorities said they had seen an increase in coronavirus cases and the public breaking coronavirus rules.

The kingdom registered 386 cases on Saturday, continuing a steady increase since early January. Cases peaked in June 2020.

A Health Ministry spokesman urged people to act responsibly to help "efforts of the leadership to preserve health and safety in the kingdom".

“If we adhere to procedures, the curve will flatten and then can be controlled. This is what we hope for,” he said.

The Human Resources and Social Development Ministry also called on all employees in all sectors to abide by the precautionary measures, follow health regulations and abide by social distancing rules in the workplace to limit the spread of Covid-19.
The ministry stressed the need to take the necessary measures to prevent gatherings, provide hand sanitiser at workplaces and apply social distancing by holding meetings virtually wherever possible.

The ministry also called for implementing remote working regulations and applying a flexible working hours policy.

Last week, Health Minister Dr Tawfiq Al Rabiah said that Saudi's second wave of the virus could be worse than the first if action was not taken.

Authorities will continue to arrest and fine those who violate the precautionary measures, including those who do not maintain social distance or wear a mask, a security spokesman from the health ministry said.

"Those who spread false information on social media about the coronavirus, which would cause panic, can be fined over a million riyals and imprisoned for a period of not less than a year and not more than five years," he added.

Authorities are asking people to use the Tawakkalna track and trace app when entering commercial and government buildings, maintain social distancing, not go out in groups of more than five and wear a mask at all times.

Citizens and residents may report Covid-19 violators by calling a special number. So far, the Municipal and Rural Affairs and Housing group has conducted more than 14,500 monitoring rounds and closed 550 shops.

Jeddah Corniche was shut off by authorities on Friday because of overcrowding and lack of social distancing.