Coronavirus: What activities are allowed in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the rest of the UAE?

What you are permitted to do depends on where you live, with different rules in place in Dubai compared to the rest of the UAE

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Restrictions on movement have recently been eased across the country, allowing many people to leave their homes without a permit for the first time in weeks.

But what you can now do and which businesses are open depends on where you live in the UAE.

So what exactly are the rules in each of the emirates?

And do you still need to wear a mask when you are out and about? The National explains.

What were the restrictions and when were they first eased?

Different emirates imposed different rules to limit movement and prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Starting from March 26, authorities across the UAE carried out a daily disinfection drive between 8pm and 6am to sanitise the streets. Only those who worked in vital sectors were allowed to leave their homes during that period.

But on April 4, Dubai extended the stay at home order to 24-hours and imposed a permit system, which required people apply for permission to go out to buy essentials or visit the doctor. Residents across the rest of the UAE were expected to only venture out for essentials during the day, but official permission was not required.

Coronavirus in UAE: Your questions answered

Coronavirus in UAE: Your questions answered

The regulations were loosened for all emirates on Friday – the first day of Ramadan – to allow greater freedom during the holy month.

This week, malls have also begun opening across the country but measures are still in place to protect public health.

What are the rules in Dubai now?

The change has allowed people to move freely between 6am and 10pm for the first time in more than three weeks.

Masks remain compulsory and anyone not wearing one will be subject to a Dh1,000 fine. Gloves are no longer mandatory, but authorities advise their use.

Most people are now allowed outside to exercise one or two hours a day, with the exceptions being those who are sick and children, who must remain indoors. No more than three people can exercise in a group together and people must remain close to their homes.

Visits to first and second degree relatives are now allowed, but friends cannot meet and no more than five people can be together.

Residents must remain in their homes during the nightly sanitisation drive between 10pm and 6am.

Malls can now open, but visitors to the shopping centre and stores inside must be limited to 30 per cent of capacity. Visitors must maintain a physical distance of two metres between each other. Restaurants both inside and outside of malls are also open, but again, they can admit no more than 30 per cent of capacity and tables should be spaced two metres apart.

Children aged between 3 and 12 and seniors over the age of 60 are not allowed access to malls. Temperature checks will be carried out on all shoppers and, as with shopping malls, access is restricted to three hours.

Beaches, cinemas, entertainment and play areas remain closed.

What about the rest of the UAE?

Abu Dhabi

The Ministry of Health and Prevention and the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority revealed 11 health and social guidelines which came into place for the other six emirates on Friday.

Anyone is allowed out to exercise for up to two hours a day, providing they wear masks and adhere to spacing of two metres. Groups of up to three people are allowed to exercise together.

Residents must remain in their homes during the nightly sanitisation drive between 10pm and 6am.

Family visits are permitted, but those who are elderly and others susceptible to the virus should not meet other relatives.

Anyone who is elderly or suffers from chronic diseases should stay at home.

Groups of more than five people, or gatherings in general, in either private or public places, are not allowed.

Tents and Ramadan majalis are banned.

The distribution of food, unless it is supervised by charities or government agencies, is not allowed.

Food should not be exchanged between households, and if it is shared, disposable, sealed bowls should be used.

Ajman, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: N/A: Men wear a face masks in front of the beach in Ajman as a response to the Corona Virus. Monday, March 23rd, 2020. Ajman. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Residents wear face masks on a beach in Ajman. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Congregational prayers, including taraweeh, are allowed at home, as long as all the worshippers are members of the same family and live together.

Domestic helpers are not permitted to meet anyone outside the home and should not receive food from unknown sources. They must be provided with personal protective equipment like masks if they do interact with anyone outside the family, and take necessary precautions when receiving deliveries or post.

Malls in Abu Dhabi can reopen but anyone who enters must pass through a thermal scanner. Shops must apply for a permit from the Department of Economic Development and these will only be issued to those who can provide certificates that prove their staff tested negative for the virus.


Ajman's Department of Economic Development issued a set of regulations for businesses in the emirate at the weekend.

It said shopping centres could open as of Tuesday from 12pm to 10pm daily but only 30 per cent of the shops in the malls can be open at one time. Similarly, those shops, restaurants and cafes cannot exceed 30 per cent customer capacity.

Buffets and shisha cafes are still banned from opening and all restaurants and cafes must provide only disposable tableware to their customers. Cinemas, other attractions and changing rooms must remain closed.

Gathering for religious reasons including for prayer is still prohibited and prayer rooms cannot reopen in public areas.

No food should be directly donated to provided to anyone outside the family, unless organised through a licensed authority.

People are allowed to exercise outdoors either individually or with one other family member but this must be near their home and for only one hour per day. Group exercises are not allowed.

Salons can reopen but only offer hairdressing and nail clipping, according to the department, which said salons would also be expected to sanitise all equipment after each use and appropriately protect their staff.

Companies can reopen their offices but cannot exceed more than 30 per cent of their staff in the workplace. The rest should continue to work remotely. Priority to resume work in offices is given to employees who live in Ajman. Meetings or gatherings of more than five people are prohibited and offices cannot be open for longer than eight hours per day.

The disinfection drive will continue every evening from 10pm to 6am, when no one is allowed to leave their home – except in case of absolute necessity.

Umm Al Quwain

Malls and restaurants will open in Umm Al Quwain, after being closed in March to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The emirate's Executive Council said the decision was made after a complete health and safety assessment.

It said commercial establishments that reopen must adhere to specific measures to protect public health. These include only opening during non-disinfection hours, between 6am to 10pm.

Businesses cannot exceed 30 per cent capacity and staff must wear face masks at all times. Wearing gloves is advisable but not compulsory. Customers must maintain physical distancing of at least two metres and avoid crowding together, reported state news agency Wam.

Businesses must provide easy access to and have large amounts of hand sanitisers and hygiene kits available to the public. Public seating areas and prayer rooms must remain closed.

Dubai Mall emerges from lockdown

Dubai Mall emerges from lockdown

People over the age of 60 will not be allowed to enter the premises.

Food and beverage outlets are allowed to open but cannot exceed 30 per cent capacity. A maximum of four people can sit per table, which must be spaced at least 2.5 metres apart. The ban on serving shisha remains in place.

Hair and nail salons are allowed to reopen but can only provide hairdressing, shaving and nail cutting. Customers must book their appointments in advance and waiting areas must be closed.

Cinemas, gyms, beaches, museums and desert camps and swimming pools will remain closed. Wedding halls, gardens and massage centres must also remain closed.

These guidelines must be clearly displayed in malls, restaurants and other businesses, the council said.

People can exercise outdoors but must adhere to precautionary measures including wearing a face mask and social distancing.

Public gatherings and prayers at mosques remain suspended.


Details of businesses and commercial centres reopening have yet to be released by Fujairah Municipality but the Friday market has reopened with measures in place to protect public health.

Salons, spas and gyms remain closed. Restaurants are closed for dine-in guests but offer take away and delivery services. Fruit and vegetable and fish markets have remained open, along with supermarkets, pharmacies and money exchange facilities.

People are allowed to exercise outdoors but not in groups. They must also wear a face mask and maintain a distance of at least two metres from others.

Public gatherings are banned and mosques remain closed.

Ras Al Khaimah

Ras Al Khaimah's Department of Economic Development has not formally allowed malls to reopen but sent out specific measures that must be adhered to when they do. These include only opening between 12pm to 9pm, not exceeding 30 per cent capacity, refusing entry for people over the age of 60 and keeping cinemas, gyms, entertainment venues, common seating areas and prayer rooms closed.

Those who visit the mall must maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from others and wear gloves and face masks. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own shopping bags and use credit or debit cards to pay, rather than cash.

The car park cannot exceed 50 per cent capacity and visitors must pass through a thermal scanner on entry. Lifts can only be used by people with disabilities and must be restricted to two people at a time.

Restaurants and cafes can reopen but must not exceed 30 per cent capacity. There can be a maximum of four people per table and each table must be spaced at least 2.5m from the other.

SHARJAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - MARCH 25:  A worker sprays disinfectant, as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19 on March 25, 2020 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to at least 182 countries, claiming over 18,000 lives and infecting hundreds of thousands more. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
A worker sprays disinfectant, as a preventive measure against the spread of coronavirus, in Sharjah. Getty

All staff must be tested for Covid-19 before they can work in shops and they must change their face masks and gloves as per guidelines.

Products including make-up, shoes, perfume and clothes cannot be tested and changing rooms must be closed.

Salons can only provide hairdressing and nail services. Appointments must be made in advance and waiting areas cannot be used. Social distancing rules must also be upheld.

It is unclear if people are allowed to exercise in RAK. Prayers and public gatherings remain suspended and no new rules have been issued about whether or not families can visit each other during Ramadan.


Sharjah's Department of Economic Development said they had yet to issue a new directive allowing businesses and commercial centres to reopen. It said current rules remain in effect and public gatherings of all kinds are banned.