Saudi Arabia’s Public Health Authority (Weqaya) announced on Thursday the updated health protocols for commercial centers, markets (souks), malls, restaurants and cafes as part of measures to stem the spread of coronavirus, especially the mutated variant of Omicron.
Regarding the preventive protocols for restaurants and cafes, Weqaya stressed that social distancing measures shall be applied at spaces for receiving orders and waiting of customers with a distance of one and a half meters between individuals.
Members of the same family are treated as one individual and social distancing is not required among them. The authority also stipulated that eating is allowed inside restaurants.
According to the updated protocols, customers are required to scan the barcode through the Tawakkalna application to automatically verify their immunization status before entering the premises of the facilities.The updated protocols stipulate restricting entry to only those individuals who have completed the vaccination with immune status on the app. However, there will be an exemption for the groups who are excluded from taking the vaccine
on health grounds and that will be ascertained through the Tawakkalna app.
The employees of the facilities are responsible for ensuring that customers scan the barcode before their entry. However, small stores in the retail sector such as grocery stores and barber shops are obligated to verify immunization status of consumers through the app manually.
The updated protocols defined public places as those spaces that are not covered and not surrounded by borders such as public parks and walkways that are open to all and that do not have any entry requirements or arrangements from any organized or supervisory party.
However, sports stadiums, and venues of events, including those halls with the capacity to hold 500 or more people at a time -regardless of the actual attendance- will not be included in the category of public places.
Weqaya said that the working hours in markets, commercial centers and malls will be according to the regulations that were in force before the outbreak of coronavirus
, unless directives are issued to the contrary. The authority revealed that more details about the updated protocols are available on its website.
It also instructed that shisha shops are not allowed to operate indoors but only outdoors. It is noteworthy that the Ministry of Interior announced that wearing masks and maintaining social distancing are mandatory in all indoor and outdoor facilities effective from 7:00 am on Thursday.