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Shops reopen in Bahrain as government rolls back restrictions

Bahrain is allowing stores to reopen if they follow social distancing guidelines but theaters and tourist locations remain closed and food delivery and takeout remain the order of the day for restaurants.
A vendor sells protective face masks and clothes, following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Manama, Bahrain, March 26, 2020. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed - RC2TRF9D6WE8

Bahrain allowed shopping malls and some stores to resume business today, becoming one of a handful of countries to roll back measures intended to curb the spread of coronavirus. 

Under the new guidelines, shop workers and customers must wear masks inside stores, Zayed al-Zayani, minister of industry, commerce and tourism, said in a statement run by Bahrain’s official news agency. 

Retailers are to limit the number of shoppers allowed inside their businesses, and if a line forms, stores must enforce social distancing outside. 

Shopping centers and all other nonessential businesses across Bahrain have been closed since March 26.  

Al-Zayani added that movie theaters, sports centers, private swimming pools, shisha cafes, salons and tourist locations will remain closed until further notice. Restaurants will continue with food delivery and takeout. 

Following the announcement, Seef Properties, a leading real estate development company in Bahrain, said it would reopen all of its shopping malls Friday. 

Compared with the rest of the Gulf region, Bahrain has reported a relatively low number of coronavirus infections. The Ministry of Health says it has conducted more than 50,000 tests but has just 363 active COVID-19 cases, with only three patients in critical condition. Overall, Bahrain has registered 887 cases and five deaths; on Tuesday, the ministry announced the kingdom's latest COVID-19 fatality, a 70-year-old with underlying health conditions.

The Bahraini government also recently announced it would spend $570 million to pay the salaries of 100,000 private sector employees from April to June. In March, Bahrain said it would help cover the water and electricity bills of both citizens and businesses for three months.