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Abu Dhabi: Police have arrested 53 Saudi men in a mass gathering flouting COVID-19 rules, a security official said, as Saudi Arabia stepped up efforts to curb the spread of the disease.

They were arrested in a resthouse in Najran, in southwestern Saudi Arabia near the border with Yemen, a spokesman for police in the province added.

Earlier on Sunday, the police arrested 72 women for illegally gathering in a wedding hall in Jazan, in the southwest corner of Saudi Arabia.

“Their behaviour is a violation of the precautionary and preventive measures taken to confront the COVID-19 pandemic. Disciplinary procedures have been taken against them and they have been referred to public prosecution,” he said.

Saudi authorities have introduced fines ranging from SR5,000 ($1,333) to SR100,000 to limit public gatherings.

The rules prohibit any gathering containing people from more than one family who share the same home, or one consisting of five or more people with no residential relationship.

A minimum fine of SR5,000 will be imposed on any person attending or organising an illegal gathering, but those found to be breaking the rules risk a fine of up to SR10,000 if gathering with family members with whom they do not reside; a fine of SR15,000 for socialising in a residence or public area with non-family members; a SR30,000 fine for events including weddings, funerals, parties and seminars, or at salons and other businesses; and SR50,000 for workers gathering in houses, buildings under construction, rest houses or farms that are not their residences.

Authorities also instigated a range of fines from SR5,000 up to SR100,000 for any gathering of customers or employees inside or outside commercial establishments that exceeds the numbers stipulated in the precautionary measures.

Repeat offenders will face incremental increases in fines, with private-sector facilities facing three-month closures for their first offense and six-month closures and referral to the Public Prosecution for their second.

Security units have been formed to monitor and implement these regulations, but members of the public are also urged to report any illegal gatherings using the toll-free number 999 (or 911 in the Mecca region).

Saudi Arabia so far has confirmed a tally of more than 426,000 coronavirus cases and more than 7,000 related fatalities.

The official spokesperson for the Saudi Ministry of Health said the curve of confirmed cases in the Kingdom is passing through a steady phase, and that the trend of the epidemiological curve descends as more than 11.5 million COVID-19 jabs have been administered so far.