UAE explained: How Covid-19 will affect holiday celebrations

A ban on gatherings is in place under rules to contain the spread of the coronavirus

The year-end holiday season is fast approaching. Like every other celebration since the start of the pandemic, this one will be different, too.

Precautionary measures – including masks, restrictions on gatherings and maintaining physical distancing – remain in place to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Adhering to such measures affects how people will be able to get together at times such as National Day, Christmas and New Year.

On Tuesday, authorities issued a set of rules listing precautionary measures for larger events, such as concerts, that may be held over the period.

But what about gatherings at home?

Will you be allowed to invite family and friends over to celebrate?

The National explains.

Can I hold a party at home with friends?

No. Parties and gatherings of friends are still banned under rules announced earlier in the outbreak.

This was reinforced in September when an actress was fined for holding a birthday party at two restaurants.

“She had a number of guests gathered in a closed place, which is in breach of the resolution issued by the UAE’s Attorney General," said Brig Jamal Al Jallaf, director of criminal investigations at Dubai Police, at the time.

Anyone holding a gathering in a public or private place – including a home – will face a Dh10,000 fine under rules to curb the spread of the virus, he said.

Those who attend a gathering will be fined Dh5,000.

A spokeswoman for the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority confirmed there had been no change to the protocols regarding gatherings since then.

Authorities recommend holding digital celebrations instead.

What about family? Can I invite them over to celebrate?

Yes. In September, authorities said gatherings of up to 10 family members could take place, but they emphasised that safety measures must be followed.

The Nair family celebrates Christmas Eve in Dubai, UAE.

All first-degree relatives who plan to attend are advised to take a Covid-19 test 24 hours prior to the event.

At the event itself, buffets are banned and all food should be served using disposable crockery.

Physical distancing of two metres between guests must be maintained and hosts should remind them to wash their hands regularly.

Surfaces must continuously be sanitised, according to the notice from authorities.

Anyone who is unwell, elderly or has a chronic illness should not attend.

Non-compliance with safety measures will lead to penalties and fines, in accordance with the laws issued by the UAE Attorney General.

What about concerts and workplace celebrations?

Workplace celebrations are banned altogether, as are marches.

Concerts are allowed, but only after receiving approval from authorities.

Additional precautionary measures must be in place, including mandatory temperature checks for all in attendance and assigning dedicated isolation areas for those who may be sick.

Entry and exit routes must also be clearly marked.

Advance bookings should be encouraged and events must last no longer than three to four hours.

All areas at public facilities must be cleaned and sterilised every hour.