Coronavirus: Abu Dhabi considers opening malls, with precautions

Officials look at limited trading as long as shoppers wear masks and gloves, and payment is cashless

In this Sunday, April 19, 2020 photo, a security guard checks a customer's temperature and offers him disposable gloves amid the coronavirus pandemic in the world's busiest Carrefour supermarket at the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. One of the biggest private employers in the Middle East hasn't yet cut salaries or laid off any of its 44,000 workers, but the pandemic is changing how Majid Al Futtaim, the company that owns and operates hundreds of grocery stores and more than two dozen malls, thinks about food security, retail and tourism. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
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Abu Dhabi officials on Wednesday said they were considering reopening malls soon, as they began a consultation with traders.

Shoppers could be allowed into shopping malls as long as masks and gloves were worn and payments were cashless.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development said it was in talks with mall operators and retailers to "explore options as part of a staggered series of reopenings across key sectors".

It would give the public "more options to purchase products they may need, in addition to e-commerce, and to support local retailers and businesses", the department said.

The move would also allow retail staff to return to work, and could capitalise on the public's desire to shop during Ramadan and for Eid Al Fitr.

“The swift adoption of wide-reaching preventive measures, including high testing rates and the use of technology to curb the spread of Covid-19, has enabled us to commence plans for re-opening parts of the economy,” said Mohammed Al Hammadi, chairman of the department.

Mr Al Hammadi said the government was "confident that we can move towards reopening facilities in the near future".

Rules would also include limiting numbers in shops and car parks, keeping some types of outlets closed and testing all staff for Covid-19, the department said.