Muscat: Starting Sunday, people across Oman will not be allowed to venture outside their homes between 8 pm and 5 am.
The decision to impose the ban, which is expected to last until Thursday, April 8, was taken by the Supreme Committee to deal with COVID-19, owing to an alarming daily surge in coronavirus cases, an increasing number of patients admitted to hospitals, intensive care units, and a spike in the number of deaths.
Some activities have been exempted from the night lockdown regulations which include transport of healthcare personnel, emergency vehicles involved in electricity and water services. Even private hospitals as well as pharmacies can continue to function, as regulated by the Ministry of Health.
The operations at seaports and airports can continue while trucks of all types – from three tonnes and above, and water and wastewater tankers, have also been exempted from the ban.
Factories can operate while loading and unloading operations can be carried out inside but employees must stay on the premises.
Fuel stations will remain open as regulated by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Investment Promotion, in coordination with the marketing companies.
Employees working in press and media organisations – both public and private, whose job requires them to be at work during the ban period, will be exempted and the Ministry of Information will provide them with the required permits.
With health experts predicting the period from April 1 to May 31 to be an extremely tough stage of the pandemic’s development in the country, the Supreme Committee was compelled to take these measures, so that things do not worsen in the coming weeks.
“The Supreme Committee will take a series of tougher and more comprehensive measures that might culminate in a lockdown and total ban on movement during the above mentioned period,” said the government body in a statement.
Aside from the movement of people being restricted, commercial activities are also not allowed to operate in the country, during the above times. To make sure they stay open for customers longer, many shops in Oman have taken the decision to open early and close before the lockdown begins.
“We are here for you, open from 7 am to 7 pm from March 28 to April 8,” said a statement from a popular supermarket chain in the country.
Restaurants, which often close between 3 pm and 6 pm, will also stay open during this time to help cater to customers.
“Remaining open in the late afternoon and early evenings helps us serve more customers,” said the owner of an eatery in Muscat.
“In the evenings, many people, once they leave work, might not have the time to come and buy food from us before going home. They can, therefore, place their orders early and pick them up in the afternoon if they wish to.
“In keeping with the decisions of the Supreme Committee, we will not be offering delivery and takeaway services after 8 pm either,” he added. “All of our operations will shut by 7:30pm, and our last orders will be at 7 pm.”
All classes for students attending government schools will continue online, with the exception of grade 12 students, who will remain with the blended learning system. This might change, on the basis of the epidemiological situation in the country.