Municipal facilities closed until further notice

MUNICIPAL facilities across Bahrain, including public parks, gardens and coasts have been closed until further notice.

However, the decision taken by the country’s four municipal bodies will not include walkways, excluding the Southern Governorate, to allow people to exercise while maintaining social distancing.

The Northern Municipal Council, the Southern Municipal Council, the Muharraq Municipal Council and the Capital Trustees Board have voted in favour of the shutdown, during their separate meetings, as part of efforts to combat the spread of Covid-19.

It comes as people have been told to stay at home, businesses urged to impose work remotely and a ban on public gatherings of more than five people imposed.

Anyone violating the ban will face punishments of fines between BD1,000 and BD10,000, or no less than three months in jail or both.

Southern Municipal Council chairman Bader Al Tamimi said the closure in his governorate covers all municipal facilities, including walkways.

“Walkways are not exempted in our governorate as we believe they are of the same nature as parks, gardens and coasts,” he said. “Since there are no fencing, people tend to break the rule and go for a walk or jog.

“Basically, we don’t want people to gather in open spaces because we don’t want to end up with groups that in reality are similar to a gathering of more than five.”

Northern Municipal Council chairman Ahmed Al Kooheji said even before the decision to enforce a closure the number of people visiting public places has dropped.

“We don’t want municipal facilities to become a haven for youths who are bored and don’t want to sit at home, which is why we have ordered these places to be locked down,” he said.

“Walkways are difficult to control since they are not fenced and in normal circumstances are not visited by large groups of youth, so having them open for sports or for walking is fine.”

Capital Trustees Board vice-chairwoman Aziza Kamal said it was necessary to close down municipal facilities because they tend to attract large numbers of people.

“Security personnel are present at parks and walkways and it is always with the coasts that we have found difficulty, but now with the rule of law gatherings are disallowed,” she said.

“This is a temporary move to combat the spread of the coronavirus and when things improve it will be back to normal, so it is not like we are banning people forever.”

The Muharraq Municipal Council’s legislative, administrative and financial committee chairman Bassem Al Majdami said people are not being prohibited from performing light sports as claimed, but that they should follow proper social distancing guidelines.

“The walkways at Arad Bay and Busaiteen Coast are open for people to walk, jog and run – but there has to be safe distance,” he said.

“It is all about the places that people socialise on normal days which due to the current circumstances is impossible, as we work to curb the spread of the disease.”

The decision from all four bodies has been referred to Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Minister Essam Khalaf for immediate implementation.



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