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Bahrain bars unvaccinated citizens from most public venues amid record spike in Covid-19 cases

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Starting from Friday, most of Bahrain’s public venues will be off-limits to people who haven’t gotten their Covid-19 jabs yet, the government announced, as the Gulf state sees a national record spike in new coronavirus infections.

Only those over 18 who have received their second vaccine shot within at least 14 days or already recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed to enter shopping malls, restaurants, salons, cinemas and offices providing government services.

Exceptions will only be made for the most essential businesses, like supermarkets, banks, pharmacies and hospitals.

The restrictions are set to last at least until June 3, the Health Ministry said in a statement on Thursday, while urging the public to refrain from gathering in groups of more than six.

On Wednesday, the kingdom reported 2,354 new Covid cases – almost a twofold increase compared to the daily figures just a week ago. As of Wednesday, the island nation had recorded a total of 206,878 infections and 773 Covid-related fatalities so far in the pandemic.

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The current spike in cases occurred after Saudi Arabia reopened its borders on May 17, which reportedly led to hundreds of cars arriving in Bahrain via the 25-kilometer-long King Fahd Causeway.

However, Waleed Al Manea, a Health Ministry undersecretary, insisted during a press conference on Thursday that the number of new cases coming from abroad was “limited.”

The official attributed the surge in infections to large gatherings within Bahrain during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and the Eid holiday. The country also recently boosted its testing program, he added.

“We urge people to get vaccinated and to comply with precautionary measures for the sake of Bahrain,” Manea said.

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Some 37% of Bahrain’s 1.7 million population have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 at this point, having received their second shot at least 14 days ago, according to the country’s state coronavirus committee.

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