Covid-19: Dubai cancels all live entertainment in hotels and restaurants

Move follows suspension of all non-essential surgery in the emirate for a month as UAE battles surge in coronavirus cases

Related: UAE approves Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for use

Hotels and restaurants in Dubai were told to halt all live entertainment in their venues because of a surge in Covid-19 cases.

The directive from Dubai Tourism, which affects performances by DJs, dancers and bands, came after a rise in the number of breaches found during inspections.

Dubai Media Office said the decision was made to ensure “public health and safety” and that “all permits issued will be on hold effective immediately”.

"During the last three weeks, Dubai Tourism has issued more than 200 violations of non compliance with guidelines and closed down around 20 establishments," it said.

Licensed premises are not required to close bars and restaurants – which were all shut during the first wave in April last year – but have sought further clarity from the authorities.

The decision follows a busy season for Dubai's tourism sector, with hotel occupancy above 70 per cent.

But new infections have surged since the Christmas and New Year holidays, rising from about 1,000 per day in late December to 3,500 per day. As of Wednesday, January 20 , the country had recorded a nine-day record of rising cases.

Thursday's move follows an instruction by Dubai Health Authority to healthcare centres to cancel all non-essential surgery for a month.

The same decision was made last March to protect at-risk patients and release equipment, such as ventilators.

Hotels told The National they were forced to act immediately on Thursday.

Aloki Batra, chief executive of Five Hotels, including the second largest on Palm Jumeirah, said it was quickly scaling back planned events.

He also said the authorities had given premises a lifeline by allowing bars and restaurants to remain open.

“People can still go out and dine. As soon as things calm down we will be back up and running," he said. Mr Batra said that 600 of his staff had already been vaccinated.

“We are returning to the dining model, and our restaurants have been doing very well.

“There will be an impact, but I do not see it as significant to where the business is going."

He said the hotel was at 85 per cent occupancy, with many rooms filled by British tourists.

"It was very serious when we saw the speed at which the UK locked down, it was clear the new strain there was more dangerous," he said.

Sam Asmar, corporate vice president of revenue for leading hotel chain Rotana, said brunches were still permitted under the new directives, but must be in line with guidelines.

Occupancy was high over the festive season across the group’s Dubai hotels but has since dipped.

“Occupancy during the festive was between 90 to 95 per cent and we have now dropped to 75 and 80 per cent due to the slowdown of the European markets.”

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