Saudi Commerce Ministry, hypermarkets discuss online shopping, social distancing

A newly implemented system is being followed by hypermarkets

A man uses his mobile phone at an empty cafe, following the outbreak of coronavirus, as per Saudi government ban to close all cafes and restaurants in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 16, 2020.

A man uses his mobile phone at an empty cafe, following the outbreak of coronavirus, as per Saudi government ban to close all cafes and restaurants in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 16, 2020.

REUTERS/ Ahmed Yosri

JEDDAH: The Saudi Commerce Ministry has been meeting with leading hypermarkets across the Kingdom to discuss promotions and discounts to encourage online shopping and social distancing.

Abdulrahman Al-Hussein, the ministry’s spokesman, emphasized that people can buy whatever they need online, before and after the curfew. He said a newly implemented system is being followed by hypermarkets.

“You must’ve seen photos of people lined up outside supermarkets. Don’t fret, that’s not due to overcrowding. It’s all arranged to ensure no more than 25 persons are inside the premises at once,” he added.

The number could go up depending on the size of the establishment and the numbers dictated by the Health Ministry.

As of Thursday, said Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly, the Kingdom has lost three people to coronavirus — the third death was a resident in Madinah who suffered chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart failure.

He announced 112 new cases of the virus — 12 of those returned from abroad, while the remaining hundred were people who came into contact with those infected. Four individuals have recovered, Al-Aly added, bringing the number of recoveries to 33.

The total of number of confirmed cases is now 1,012 in the Kingdom, among them 23 medical staff who were infected in a private hospital in Riyadh and have since been put under quarantine.

“It’s highly important to get self-tested, which is easily done on the app Mawid or call 937,” said Al-Aly. He emphasized the need to follow protocol with self-isolation and curfew, adding that the number of people in quarantine has reached 13,000, with 4,000 in health institutes and 9,000 under house quarantine.

With the new curfew regulations implemented in Riyadh, Makkah and Madinah, beginning from 3 p.m. to 6 a.m., the Interior Ministry has urged citizens and residents to adhere to the rules.

“All routes to and from Riyadh, Makkah and Madinah are completely monitored and under security control to ensure no one goes in or out,” said the ministry’s spokesman Col. Talal Al-Shalhoub, adding that not only would the driver of a vehicle be fined, so too would the passengers.

Those undermining the curfew on social media have been apprehended and directed to the necessary authorities, he said.

Al-Shalhoub added that those who are forced to travel domestically will find the list of permissible entities and job titles allowed to take a flight in the king’s royal decree, or by calling 999 and 911 in the Western Province.

Any exemptions will be on the list, and if an individual belongs to an exempted entity but their job title is not exempted, they will not be admitted on the flight, he said.

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