May 6, 2020 / 12:56 PM / 20 days ago

Bahrain eases coronavirus restrictions, shops, industries to open

DUBAI, May 6 (Reuters) - Shops and industrial enterprises in Bahrain can open from Thursday while restaurants will stay closed to in-house diners, the Health Ministry said, as the Gulf state eases restrictions designed to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.

Bahrain shuttered non-essential shops and businesses in late March and barred entry of foreign visitors, but did not impose a curfew, unlike some other Gulf states.

Health Ministry officials told a news conference on Wednesday that employees and customers must wear face masks and practice physical distancing. Cinemas, sports facilities and salons remain closed.

The small island state has reported 3,720 infections with eight deaths from the virus. The total count in the six Gulf Arab states exceeds 76,000 with 421 deaths.

Other Gulf countries eased curfews and other social and business restrictions with the start of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan two weeks ago.

Bahrain this week opened a 152-bed COVID-19 field hospital intensive care unit on an empty piece of land in Sitra, as part of a plan to create 500 additional ICU beds for critical cases. (Reporting by Alaa Swilam and Lisa Barrington; Editing by Alison Williams)

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