Saudi Arabia will enforce a countrywide 24-hour curfew during the five-day Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday later this month due to the coronavirus.
A full lockdown will be imposed from May 23 to 27 following the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, the interior ministry said in a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency on Tuesday.
Until then, commercial and business enterprises will remain open as they now are and people can move freely between 9am local time (06:00 GMT) and 5pm, except in the holy city of Mecca which remains under a full curfew, the statement said.
The kingdom, which has reported the highest number of coronavirus cases in the Gulf region, is scrambling to limit the spread of the deadly disease.
On Tuesday, the health ministry said the number of COVID-19 deaths had risen to 264 and confirmed 42,925 infections.
Saudi Arabia had earlier imposed 24-hour curfews on most towns and cities but eased them last month for the start of Ramadan.
Shopping centres and retailers were allowed to reopen, except in major hotspots including Mecca – where confirmed case numbers have soared, despite a stringent lockdown.
In March, Saudi Arabia suspended the year-round Umrah pilgrimage over fears of the disease spreading in Islam’s holiest cities.
Authorities are yet to announce whether they will proceed with this year’s Hajj – scheduled for late July – but they have urged Muslims to temporarily defer preparations for the annual pilgrimage.
Last year, some 2.5 million faithful travelled to Saudi Arabia from across the world to participate in the Hajj, which Muslims are obliged to perform at least once during their lifetime if possible.
The Arab world’s biggest economy has also closed cinemas and restaurants and halted flights as it attempts to contain the virus.
King Salman has warned of a “more difficult” fight ahead against COVID-19, as the kingdom faces the double blow of virus-led shutdowns and crashing oil prices.