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A coffee shop is seen empty of customers after Saudi Arabia's decision to ban gatherings, following the outbreak of coronavirus, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia March 9, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Saudi Arabia has brought forward curfew in Dammam, Taif, Al Qatif to start at 3pm, it was announced on Friday.

The earlier start time for the curfew in the city of Dammam and the governorates of Al-Qatif and Taif forms part of the Kingdom’s measures to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, according to the Saudi Ministry of Interior.

The ministry said curfew exemptions still apply to those in vital public and private sectors such as security, military and media. Those who work in health services are also excluded from the curfew.

The Kingdom imposed a quarantine on Al Qatif earlier last month. The temporary suspension of entry and exit was extended from the city’s Saihat district in the south to Safwa in the north, according to the ministry.

On Thursday (April, 2, 2020), the Kingdom imposed a 24-hour curfew in the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina until further notice, as the total number of reported COVID-19 deaths in the country has risen to 21.

The new restrictions come as the kingdom reported 165 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections to 1885.

Five new deaths have also been reported over the last 24 hours, pushing the death toll to 21, Saudi Health Minister Dr. Tawfiq Al Rabiah, said during a press conference.

He said 64 infected patients have fully recovered, taking the total recoveries to 328. The minister highlighted the importance of the measures in controlling the spread of the pandemic.

“People’s adherence is essential to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, whatever the strong measures,” the minister said.

The 24-hour curfew was announced by Interior Minister Abdul Aziz Bin Saud Al Saud. It was from 3pm to 6am only. The kingdom is extending the curfew as part of slew of intensified measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the interior minister said.

ll commercial activities will be closed in the two cities, but pharmacies, food groceries, fuel stations and banks are exempted.