New police unit to enforce Saudi Arabia’s latest virus restrictions

The country's Interior Ministry also announced a new round of hefty fines for quarantine violators.

al-monitor A woman wearing a protective mask to protect against COVID-19 walks at a shopping mall after the Saudi government eased a curfew and allowed stores to open, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 2, 2020.  Photo by REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri.

May 7, 2020

Saudi Arabia has banned gatherings of more than five people and announced the formation of a special police unit to enforce the new regulation. 

Interior Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef approved a new round of hefty fines for quarantine offenders, the state-run Saudi Press Agency said today.  

The penalty for family gatherings at home between people who don’t already live together is 10,000 Saudi riyals ($2,660). The fine for nonfamily gatherings is 15,000 riyals (nearly $4,000). 

A newly formed police unit, according to the Saudi-based Arab News, will enforce the new social distancing regulations. 

Non-Saudi residents who violate the coronavirus mitigation measures will be deported and barred from reentering the country, the Interior Ministry said this week. Anyone who purposefully spreads the virus will be fined 500,000 riyals ($133,000) and be given up to five years in prison. 

Also today, Saudi health officials announced 1,793 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections to 33,731. The COVID-19 death toll in the country stands at 219.

Saudi Arabia has joined a number of other Middle Eastern countries in relaxing some restrictions intended to curb the spread of the virus. In late April, the kingdom allowed businesses and markets to reopen and lifted a ban on travel into and out of the eastern Qatif province, which it sealed off in March. 

A 24-hour curfew has been lifted in all areas except Mecca.

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