Parts of Mideast, North Africa Opening up as Ramadan Ends

Parts of Mideast, North Africa Opening up as Ramadan Ends

Some countries mark Eid al-Fitr with loosening coronavirus restrictions

The Muslim world spent Ramadan under coronavirus restrictions. The end of the holy month is now marked by the Eid al-Fitr holiday, and some countries are looking to open up during and after the three-day celebration, which begins anywhere from May 12 to May 14 on the Islamic lunar calendar.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared on Wednesday that the Anatolian nation’s sweeping shutdown would be lifted on May 17, when Eid al-Fitr ends there.

Egypt will lift restrictions on May 21, three days after Eid celebrations end in the country.

Some countries already began to lift coronavirus limits before the holiday, including Jordan, which removed its restrictions on evening activities on May 13.

Oman is set to do the same on Saturday.

Inoculated and COVID-recovered Bahrainis were allowed to eat indoors at restaurants and cafés when Eid al-Fitr began on Thursday.

Bahrain and the Russian Direct Investment Fund on Wednesday agreed in principle for the Gulf country to manufacture Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. That same day, Bahrain approved Sputnik Light, a single-dose Russian vaccine, for emergency use.

According to the Saudi Gazette, 20,569 prayer sites in the kingdom are set for worshippers’ arrival for Eid. The country is set to open all ports of entry on Monday.

The Arab Times reported that with the gradual reopening of Kuwait International Airport, 17,000 people are expected to go abroad during the holiday.

Iraq, however, announced a full lockdown starting May 12 and ending May 22. Exceptions include pharmacies, grocery stores and truck deliveries. The country has had a total of nearly 123,000 cases of COVID-19.

Tunisia is in full lockdown until Sunday amid a third wave of coronavirus that has swamped hospitals in what Premier Hichem Mechichi called “the worst health crisis in its [the country’s] history.”

Egypt, also experiencing a third wave of infection amid tight restrictions on mosque attendance during Eid al-Fitr, announced Thursday that it received 1.7 million AstraZeneca shots through the COVAX program, an initiative of the World Health Organization, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and other organizations.

Here are the latest COVID-19 numbers for the Middle East and North Africa as of 4 pm Greenwich Mean Time (UTC±0) on Thursday.


CountryConfirmed CasesDeathsRecoveredActive Cases
Palestinian Territories303,2703,401288,89110,978
Saudi Arabia430,5057,122414,1399,244
United Arab Emirates542,1581,623522,35618,179


Steven Ganot contributed to this report.


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