March 15, 2020 / 4:49 PM / 23 days ago

Saudi Arabia closes malls, restaurants, cafes and parks over coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: Visitors are seen at King Fahd Library Garden, following the outbreak of coronavirus, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia March 12, 2020. Picture taken March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri

RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia ordered the closure on Sunday of malls, restaurants, coffee shops and public parks and gardens, while exempting supermarkets, pharmacies and food delivery, in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Several local municipalities tweeted the directives, which Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television said would apply across the country, where 103 infections but no deaths have been reported.

The orders appeared to go into effect immediately. A diner in Riyadh told Reuters the restaurant she had been sitting in shuttered about 45 minutes before the announcement was made.

Saudi Arabia has taken some of the most drastic steps among Gulf Arab states by halting international passenger flights, cancelling the umrah pilgrimage and locking down its eastern Qatif region, where many cases are centered.

Reporting by Marwa Rashad, Writing by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Alexander Smith

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