Well it’s not news to people in Saudi, but perhaps you would like to know how the country is handling the new virus strain. Here lockdowns or temporary closures have become commonplace during Covid, especially around holidays. Now that the new strain has entered the country, the Saudi Ministry of Health is being extra cautious again. Throughout the pandemic most people here believe that the strict measures put into effect, sometimes with less than 24 hour notice, have helped keep the numbers down. We feel more safe because more or less, folks are following the guidelines. We are still in the 10 day lockdown period, with grocery stores, hospitals and even some malls being open, but very restricted.
Now there is also a very controlled way to see where people go and who they have come into contact with. Everyone who wants to enter a mall, store, hospital, etc. must download a country-wide App called Tawakkalna. This App let’s you know if you’ve been near someone who may have been infected. It’s a trackable App. There are different color bands that show in your screen. The one you want to have is green, as that means you are healthy. If you come to Saudi as a tourist, I’m sure you will now be made to register and download the App, as it has a color line for people who are in quarantine. It also bans people who don’t have the green line from entering any business.
If you think this is a bit much, well other countries have also put Apps to work. For example when you enter Bahrain, you must download their Covid App before you leave the airport, or enter by causeway. It lets you know your Covid test result from the compulsory test you get there, during your quarantine.
Below are two articles where you can read about the new restrictions and the new App. It had some issues at the beginning, just last week or so, as so many people were registering. Now it seems to be working fine.
“COVID-19 rules in Saudi Arabia: Events, weddings canceled and cinemas, gyms closed”, written by Ismaeel Naar, 4 Feb. 2021 in Al Arabiya news. Here’s an excerpt from the article with link below.
“Saudi Arabia has introduced new rules to stem the spread of COVID-19, including the suspension of all recreational activities and events for the next 10 days, according to the interior ministry.
Saudi Arabia will close all cinemas, indoor entertainment centers, independent indoor games venues or those located in restaurants or shopping centers, etc, gyms and sports centers for a period of 10 days as part of countermeasures against COVID-19, according to an official announcement early on Thursday.”
“Massive registration surge causes Saudi Tawakkalna COVID-19 app to crash”, 6 Feb. 2021, in arabnews.com. Here’s an excerpt from the article with link below.
“Almost 10 million users registered with Tawakkalna since May 2020 – that number recently rose by 22.5 percent to 12.5 million.
But when the government this last week made use of the app mandatory for all people in the Kingdom to enter worksites, shops, and malls, attempts to sign in reached 250 million causing it to crash.
The app provides information surrounding the spread of COVID-19 in the Kingdom, including telling users when they are close to an area where there are known cases, and helps with the early detection of possible infections – it also allows people to apply for permits during times of curfew.
Suspected cases can also be reported through the app.”