Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 October 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: Dubai lifts permit restrictions to allow shopping and exercise

Residents can leave home from 6am to 10pm from Friday for essential journeys, and can spend up to 2 hours a day exercising outside

Dubai residents will be allowed to leave home without a permit as of Friday after the government eased restrictions on personal travel.

The decision will allow people to move freely between 6am and 10pm for the first time since April 4.

In a series of developments on Thursday night, the Dubai government said:

  • Residents can leave home for one to two hours a day for exercise including running, cycling and dog walking - masks must be worn at all times. A maximum number of three people can exercise together.
  • They can visit “first and second-degree” relatives. Friends should not meet and no more than five people should be in one place together
  • Residents must be in their homes between 10pm and 6am
  • Malls will open between midday and 10pm
  • Shops can open but may not be at more than 30 per cent of maximum capacity at all times. Staff numbers should be reduced to 30 per cent capacity
  • No cinemas, entertainment or play areas areas can open
  • Dubai’s main Metro line will resume service on Sunday, running from 7am to 11pm
  • Police will issue Dh1,000 fines to anyone found in public without a mask on. Wearing gloves in public or in supermarkets is not mandatory

The city's beaches will remain off-limits however according to a spokeswoman for Dubai Media Office.

"Beaches and recreational activities are not included," she said.

A video shared by Dubai Media Office, in the early hours of Friday morning, stated that children and sick people were not allowed to exercise outdoors.

This has led to anxious parents taking to social media to complain.

Chief among their concerns was the impact the lockdown has had on their children’s mental and physical health.

Restaurants outside malls are allowed to serve food and beverages and can receive customers.

However they are required to reduce seating capacity to 30 per cent and place seats and tables two metres apart.

They must also follow stringent guidelines for sterilisation and should not offer open buffet or shisha.

The National contacted a number of hotel bars on Friday morning who all said they were unsure if they could reopen and were awaiting further instruction.

Workers are also allowed to return to the office providing it was not over 30 per cent of the staffing level.

Dubai Government recommended only returning to the office if it was absolutely necessary and urged people to continue working remotely.

Dubai, with a population of more than 3 million, had the strictest regulations, with residents requiring an online permit from police to leave home to buy essentials from supermarkets and pharmacies.

The emirate's Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management said "stringent measures undertaken over the last three weeks have significantly helped to mitigate the crisis".

The committee stressed, however, that the easing of restrictions did not mean Dubai was fully back to normal.

"It is vital that the public follows precautionary and preventative guidelines until the situation is normalised," read a statement from the committee.

Earlier, in a briefing note to businesses across the city, Dubai Economy set out guidelines on how malls, offices, factories, building sites and even public transport would start again once the government issued the go-ahead.

Under the plans, the emirate, which is under a strict 24-hour stay-at-home order, would allow people to receive family members during Ramadan and leave home for “one outdoor activity” a day.

Retailers rushed to mobilise staff on Thursday and get restaurants and shops in malls ready to open.

Erol Erguvenc, vice president of Gulf Gourmet, which runs the franchise for YO! Sushi, Texas de Brasil and California Pizza Kitchen, urged mall operators to offer rent relief where they could.

“Opening the mall is great news, as long as the landlords do not charge us the full rent, as it will be very tough for us,” he told The National.

"It is an exciting time as we need the malls to reopen but we have to follow the guidelines."

Mr Erguvenc felt shoppers would be slow to return.

“It will take time for people to get more confident,” he said.

“A lot of people have been laid off or had their salary reduced so there will not be a lot of spare cash around.”

In Abu Dhabi, where officials said they were looking at “a staggered series of reopenings across key sectors to support local retailers and businesses”, mall operators received a set of instructions that would need to be followed before they could reopen.

Shopping centres in both cities will deny entry to those aged over 60, while children between 3 and 12 could not enter Dubai malls.

Temperature checks will be mandatory for anyone entering and separate entrances and exits will be introduced.

With the easing of restrictions, authorities urged people to act responsibly, wear masks outside and maintain a two-metre social distance.

Updated: April 24, 2020 01:57 PM

THE DAILY NEWSLETTER
Sign up to our daily email