Quarantine Easing in the Middle East: Everything You Need to Know

All your questions, answered.

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With new cases of coronavirus still climbing on a daily basis, Saudi Arabia peaked with 4,000 new cases registered on Wednesday alone, taking the total number of Covid-19 cases to 50,000. In the UAE, there are currently 10,000 active cases, with 40,000 recoveries since its peak. 

The region is still very much in the midst of a pandemic, but after months of strict lockdown precautions, one question is on everyone’s minds: when will quarantine be over? 

In Saudi Arabia, after loosening restrictions last month (which saw the reopening of malls, small businesses, and mosques), the Kingdom announced that the nation-wide lockdown is due to be entirely lifted on June 21. But don’t get your hopes up just yet. With yesterday’s record number of new cases, freedom of movement still might need to be exercised with caution. 

According to Saudi Arabia’s health ministry, this new outbreak of cases is due to people not following social distancing guidelines (a slew of infections were traced back to mosques, leading many more to go back into lockdown). In response, the ministry launched a new campaign to educate people on the importance of social distancing in order to avoid a surge once quarantine is officially lifted in a few days time. 

In the UAE, malls reopened last month, along with other non-essential stores, at a reduced capacity. As of June 14, the Dubai government offices went back to operating at 100 per cent capacity. The previously imposed travel ban, which barred 200,000 UAE residents abroad from being able to come home, was lifted last week, allowing all UAE residents to return, but still carry out a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival. 

Kuwait, which has been under lockdown for three months, has taken new measures to ease restrictions this week. The nation announced a phase-by-phase plan to reopen starting on June 12 when mosques will be able to open their doors for the first time since going into lockdown on March 13. As for those looking to shop, stores will be functioning on a by-appointment-only basis, which can be booked online. The next phase has yet to be announced, and will depend on what happens in the following weeks. 

Oman was amongst the first countries in the region to ease quarantine restrictions. The sultanate ended the lockdown on May 31, reopening their economy at a 50 per cent capacity. The move didn’t last long. On June 11 the nation recorded 1,000 new cases for four consecutive days, leading to another three-week-long lockdown that was imposed this week on a slew of governates including Dhofar, which is Oman’s biggest. 

Coronavirus is persisting, and that’s not just in the Middle East. After months of free movement, China is also dealing with another outbreak, making it all the more important for everyone to take social distancing measures seriously. 

Whilst it’s practically impossible to answer the question of when quarantine will really be over in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, or Oman—there are plenty of films, series, and new music to keep you entertained in the meantime.

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