Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh residents return to malls for shopping, exercise

A banner with an instruction on personnel hygiene is seen at the street, following the outbreak of coronavirus, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 16, 2020. The banner reads: "Wash hands with soap and water." Reuters/ Ahmed Yosri

Residents of Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh have begun to return to the 51 shopping malls in the capital, after the Kingdom eased the restrictions of the coronavirus lockdown last Sunday.

“I came to shop. I had a baby a while ago before the lockdown, and thank God now I can shop for her,” a shopper told Al Arabiya.

“Coming here after the lockdown and seeing shops re-open gives me some kind of happiness,” another shopper said.

But not everyone had a shopping list.

“Honestly, I’m here to exercise,” said one shopper who is wearing a face mask and gloves. “But we’re following the rules and keeping a safe distance between each other.”

Saudi Arabia had partially lifted the curfew restrictions implemented across the Kingdom on Sunday, April 26, but Mecca and previously isolated neighborhoods remain on full lockdown.

Reopening malls and reducing curfew hours does not mean the coronavirus threat has dissipated, and all Saudi nationals and residents must adhere to strict social distancing and precautionary measures, including wearing a face mask while outside, according to the health ministry.

Saudi Arabia confirmed a total of 22,753 coronavirus cases. The death toll currently stands at 162.