Riyadh: The Kingdom’s streets came back to life on Sunday after a months-long coronavirus lockdown end today, with people breathing a (cautious) sigh of relief and resuming their everyday activities.
Saudi Arabia went into lockdown on March 21 and its three-phase unlock strategy started on May 28.
Protocols and preventive measures, such as social distancing, have been put in place as commercial activity resumes across the country. Restaurants and cafes have reopened again for indoor trade. Gyms, barbershops and beauty salons are also welcoming back clients.
The traffic movement in major cities was normal with no irregular traffic jams, according to residents. Although there was a noticeable increase in the numbers of people and children at malls and shopping centers, these places were significantly less crowded than the period before the outbreak. Shoppers adhered to social distancing and safety instructions.
Jeddah’s Corniche witnessed more visitors than it had done in previous weeks, but while people stuck to safety instructions their numbers were much less than usual.
Saja Al-Humayani said there was noticeable street congestion in the area where she went to work. “I am glad the restrictions are finally over,” she told Arab News. “I want to go to many places other than work, but I have to be cautious about my choice of time and place and I will have to organize them on a priority basis.”
Abrar Azzouz was eager to go out but, as the only person who left the house on a regular basis, she had to be careful and responsible for the sake of her family’s safety.
“I was in Al-Tahliyah today, and I could see that cafes and restaurants were busy since the early morning,” Azzouz told Arab News.
In Riyadh, product design director Mariam Al-Hazmi believed that people had become more aware and ready for this phase of the unlock. “I feel that restaurants and malls are not essential as much as going to work and working out in gyms,” she told Arab News. “I also don’t think social gatherings are necessary especially these days and, if it is a must, people should apply social distancing even in their homes. No need to greet with kisses and hugs.”
Al-Hazmi hoped that people would be more understanding about refraining from physical greetings in order to help curb the spread of coronavirus, insisting that a phone call to elderly loved ones was enough to ensure their safety too.