Saudi Arabia has announced that it is planning to end its coronavirus curfew from June 21, except in Makkah, after more than two months of restrictions.
Prayers will also be allowed to resume in all mosques outside Makkah from May 31, the interior ministry said in a series of measures announced on state media.
Elsewhere in the Gulf, Kuwait and the emirate of Dubai also moved to ease their lockdown measures, which together with a collapse in oil prices have pushed the region into its worst economic crisis in decades.
Saudi Arabia, which has reported the highest number of coronavirus cases in the Gulf, imposed a full nationwide curfew during Eid ul Fitr, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
The ministry said it will begin easing restrictions in a phased manner this week, with the curfew relaxed between 6 am and 3 pm between Thursday and Saturday.
From Sunday until June 20, the curfew will be further eased until 8 pm, the ministry added. The kingdom will lift the lockdown entirely from June 21.
“Starting from Thursday, the kingdom will enter a new phase (in dealing with the pandemic) and will gradually return to normal based on the rules of social distancing,” Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said on Monday.
Saudi Arabia has reported around 75,000 coronavirus infections and some 400 deaths from COVID-19.