Bahrain eases coronavirus restrictions, allowing shops to reopen

Beginning Thursday, shops and industrial businesses in the Gulf kingdom can resume business, though some restrictions remain in place.

al-monitor People wear protective face masks following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus as they walk to shop ahead of the holy month of Ramadan in Manama, Bahrain, April 23, 2020. Photo by REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed.

May 6, 2020

Bahrain has joined a growing number of Middle East states in easing its coronavirus restrictions, with shops set to resume business on Thursday, the Health Ministry said. 

All customers and employees are required to wear masks and businesses must reduce the number of people inside their facilities, according to a report from Bahrain’s state-run news agency. Floor markings for queueing at entrances are required to ensure social distancing. 

On March 26, Bahrain shuttered shopping centers and all other non-essential businesses. Movie theaters, sports centers and salons will stay closed under the new guidelines, and restaurants and shisha cafes remain barred from providing table service. 

Grocery stores will continue to set aside their first hour of operation for the elderly and pregnant women. 

At 3,720 cases and eight deaths, Bahrain has reported a relatively low number of infections compared with the rest of the Gulf region. Most of the recent cases involve expat laborers, the Health Ministry said.  

The ministry announced Wednesday it will launch a chat service using Facebook and WhatsApp to keep citizens updated on local and international coronavirus news. Late last month, the government launched a “virtual mall,” allowing local businesses to sell their products online to shoppers at home. 

With the start of Ramadan in April, several other Gulf states began relaxing their lockdowns and restrictions on businesses. In the United Arab Emirates, malls are reopening at 30% customer capacity. Saudi Arabia allowed businesses and markets to reopen in late April and removed restrictions on travel into and out of Qatif province, which it sealed off in March.