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March 18, 2020

Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia announces new private sector rules

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Riyadh, Mar 18: Private-sector businesses in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday were ordered to introduce enforced remote working for all employees for 15 days in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Businesses that require staff to be physically present to ensure they continue to operate — including those in vital or sensitive sectors such as electricity, water and communications — must reduce the number of workers in their offices to the bare minimum. This can be no more than 40 percent of the total number of staff.

In such cases precautionary measures set by the Ministry of Health must be followed. At offices, and staff accommodation, with more than 50 workers, an area at the entrance must be provided where temperatures can be taken and symptoms checked.

Employers must also set up a mechanism for workers to report any symptoms, such as high temperature, coughing or shortness of breath, or contact they have had with infected individuals or people who recently returned from other countries without following proper Ministry of Health quarantine procedures.

Inside offices, a safe amount of space between employees must be maintained at all times. In addition, all health clubs and nurseries provided by employers must close.

Pregnant women and new mothers, people suffering from respiratory diseases, those with immune-system problems or chronic conditions, cancer patients and employees above the age of 55 are to be given 14 days compulsory paid leave, which will not be deducted from their annual entitlement.

Businesses that are excluded from the new measures include pharmacies and supermarkets, and their suppliers. Private-sector organizations that provide services to government agencies must contact them before suspending workplace attendance. Any other business that considers it impossible to operate with only 40 percent of staff in the workplace must submit an exemption request to the authority that supervises it.

Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia announces new private sector rules

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