Coronavirus: all UAE beaches, parks and swimming pools to close from Sunday

The Ministry of Health and Prevention said restaurants and cafes can only operate at a greatly reduced capacity

Tourists wearing surgical are pictured on a beach next to Burj Al Arab on January 29 2020. The United Arab Emirates announced the first confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in the Middle East, with a four-member Chinese family from Wuhan found to be infected. / AFP / GIUSEPPE CACACE
Powered by automated translation

All beaches, parks, cinemas, sports centres and public and private swimming pools in the country are to close temporarily from Sunday to combat Covid-19.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention announced that restaurants and cafes would be allowed to operate only at 20 per cent capacity and must maintain a distance between customers of at least two metres.

They will, however, be able to serve takeaway food and carry out home deliveries.

The safety measures will be in place for two weeks and are subject to further evaluation.

The health authority urged people to ensure they still exercise outdoors.

The announcement on Saturday came shortly after all business and retail outlets in Dubai were ordered to keep customers at least 1.5 metres apart under a social distancing strategy aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus.

The directive was issued by the emirate’s economic department, which called on firms to place signage on the floors of premises for payment queues and reception areas.

Abu Dhabi instructed restaurants and stores to do the same. The emirate's Agriculture and Food Safety Authority said businesses must "ensure that employees are medically fit and must maintain a record of absences employees", adding that an intensive inspection campaign will be carried out.

Earlier on Saturday, a senior health official urged people to avoid crowded places and maintain a distance between themselves and others.

“We have seen videos of people going to public parks and beaches and consequently we would like to stress the importance of adhering to social distancing rules put in place,” said Dr Farida Al Hosani, head of communicable diseases department for Department of Health Abu Dhabi and spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health and Prevention.

At a media briefing on Saturday, she said people should keep a one-metre distance between one another.

Earlier this week, authorities in Dubai announced restaurant tables must be placed two metres apart to reduce the risk of infection.

Under the guidelines, officials also said customers should not be kept in waiting areas prior to being seated.

“Seating tables should be spaced to ensure two metres at least in between,” a statement by Dubai Municipality said.

“Regular inspections will be conducted to ensure compliance.”

The new regulations, issued by Dubai Municipality on Tuesday, will remain in force until further notice.