ISTANBUL

Saudi Arabia on Thursday banned social gatherings for at least 30 days in a bid to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The measures, which may be extended, will take effect on Thursday night, according to the Interior Ministry.

“All events and parties, including weddings, corporate meetings and the like, held in banquet and wedding halls or those in hotels will be suspended for 30 days as part of the new rules,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted the ministry’s statement as saying.

The state-run agency’s report added that movie theaters, indoor entertainment centers, and independent indoor game venues in restaurants, shopping malls, gyms and sports centers would be closed for a period of at least 10 days, again with the possibility of extension.

It also said that funeral prayers and burials are to be distributed to different times of the day to reduce the number of mourners at one time, along with social distancing measures and each procession to be separated by at least 100 meters (328 feet).

On Dec. 17, Saudi authorities launched a mass vaccination campaign.

The country has reported a caseload of 368,945 as of Wednesday, including 6,386 fatalities.

*Bassel Barakat contributed to this report from Ankara

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