An aerial view of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on the first day of Ramadan April 24, 2020. Eighteen people have been arrested for breaking curfew measures. Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Eighteen people have been arrested by Mecca Police for violating curfew measures in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, Okaz Arabic daily has reported.

The curfew violators gathered in groups in a neighbourhood in the holy city of Mecca. They shared the pictures of their gatherings on social media platforms in defiance of precautionary measures. They were referred to the Public Prosecution for legal action. Saudi authorities do not show leniency toward violators of the curfew and lockdown norms to ensure strict compliance of the rules.

Mecca has the highest number of confirmed infections and had been placed under lockdown for the safety of community members. Saudi authorities imposed a 24-hour curfew since early April in the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina as measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. The authorities relaxed coronavirus lockdown across the kingdom, except in hotspot Mecca, during Ramadan.

The Saudi Interior Ministry stipulated exceptions for workers in vital sectors while allowing residents to buy essentials and access medical care.