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Saudi Arabia institutes curfew, UAE suspends passenger flights to reduce coronavirus spread

Saudi Arabia institutes curfew, UAE suspends passenger flights to reduce coronavirus spread
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Saudi Arabia reportedly instituted a nationwide curfew Monday in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, while the United Arab Emirates has suspended passenger flights.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia announced the curfew would last from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. for 21 days, state media reported, according to Reuters. Violators would have to pay 10,000 riyals, amounting to $2,665, while repeat offenders may go to jail for up to 20 days.

Security forces will be utilized to ensure residents follow the curfew, but Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Col. Talal Mashoud said at a news conference that “military authorities may be called upon," according to Reuters.

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Saudi Arabia’s curfew comes after its number of coronavirus cases increased by more than a quarter to reach 562, the most of the six countries included in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Its neighbor and fellow council member United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced it would stop passenger and transit flights from entering or leaving the country for the next two weeks, state news agency WAM reported. But cargo flights will still be permitted.

The UAE reported 45 new cases of COVID-19, putting its total at 198. 

The state-owned airline Emirates announced Sunday that it would halt most passenger operations this week, besides ones helping travelers go home. 

Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 378,000 people, killing more than 16,500, with more than 100,000 recoveries, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.