Saudis cheer easing coronavirus restrictions as plans to reopen are announced

After more than two months of restricted movement and closures, government sets out timetable to reopen parts of country

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After more than two months of living with measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, many people in Saudi Arabia said they were happy about the news that restrictions would be lifted.

They voiced a sense of relief on Tuesday at the prospect of life returning to some form of normality.

The government said restrictions would be lifted in three phases culminating in the end of movement restrictions – except for the holy city of Makkah – from June 21.

Saudi restrictions to ease from this week

Saudi restrictions to ease from this week

For Jeddah resident and businessman Ahmed Al Amri, 45, the past two months have been a period of ups and downs.

"At the middle of it, it was very, very hard emotionally and I was thinking, 'When are we going to get out of it?'" Mr Al Amri, a father of four, told The National.

"Now we are looking forward to next Sunday. I've been stuck in the house for two months.

“It's a good change. We can now return to work, catch up with friends and family in small numbers, and get out and about a little more than we’ve been able to do for a couple of months.

“All being well, restrictions will continue to be lifted in the weeks to come, allowing us slowly to return to some kind of normal."

Events co-ordinator Fetoon Al Refai, 26, said she could not be happier about the news.

“I'm looking forward to catching up again with family and friends and colleagues because I've missed the engagement,” Ms Al Refai said.

She said that most of all, she wanted to get out and about, and back to work.

“I want to enjoy the outdoors again and am looking forward to going back to my place of work because I am broke,” Ms Al Refai said.

Meanwhile, residents of Jeddah said they planned to get up early on Sunday to step out for some exercise.

Loai Metwaly, 29, who says he is addicted to sports, said the lockdown kept him from working out.

“I tried to exercise at home but it does not feel the same as when you do it at sports clubs,” Mr Metwaly said.

“As we begin to gradually reopen the country and return to some sense of normality, I will be very happy to get back to sports.”

Hatim Al Ghamdi, a government employee in Asir province who has been stuck in Jeddah since the pandemic started, said he thought the management of the crisis was appropriate and right.

Other Saudis and expatriates also expressed their satisfaction with the way the coronavirus crisis was handled in Saudi Arabia.

Abdullah Al Attas, a Yemeni living in Saudi Arabia, said the government had done a good job in conveying its coronavirus message.

“I believe the Saudi authorities communicated continuously and intensively through the various official communication channels and social media platforms," Mr Al Attas said.

"They really have done a great job since the beginning of this crisis.”