UAE to ease Covid restrictions by lifting capacity limits in many venues by mid-February

Safety measures to be overhauled by mid-February in response to reduced risk

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The UAE will gradually lift Covid-19 capacity limits at shopping centres and other public places within days, authorities confirmed on Wednesday.

Dr Saif Al Dhaheri, official spokesman for the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, said venues would be allowed to operate at full occupancy by the middle of February.

During the country’s weekly coronavirus briefing, he said the directives related to “various economic, tourist and recreational facilities, shopping centres and means of transportation”.

Dr Al Dhaheri said individual emirates would to allowed to set capacity limits for weddings and funerals.

He called on members of the public to abide by green pass rules in place in the emirates in which they live.

The minimum social distancing required at mosques will be reduced to one metre. Dr Al Dhaheri said this measure could be removed if cases continue to drop.

Authorities will continue to monitor Covid-19 infections throughout the country and safety measures could be tightened if necessary.

Dr Al Dhaheri praised the public for their support of safety measures and said such rules had played a pivotal role in curbing the spread of the virus.

“The remarkable commitment of community members and their effective contributions to the implementation of precautionary and preventive measures helped decrease the number of cases recorded, with a clear decrease in the admission rate of patients with Covid-19 in hospitals,” he said.

Dubai's Supreme Committee of Crisis & Disaster Management said all activities, events and social gatherings in the emirate can gradually return to full capacity by February 15.

It urged the public to continue all preventive measures, including the wearing of face masks.

A total of 1,538 Covid-19 cases was reported in the UAE on Wednesday, the lowest daily figure recorded this year. Infections have fallen for three days in a row.

Daily figures have halved in the past three weeks. Authorities reported 3,116 cases on January 15.

Four patients died during during the 24-hour reporting period and 2,457 people were declared free of the virus.

Authorities have recorded 862,514 cases, 791,318 recoveries and 2,273 deaths to date.

The number of active cases dropped to 68,923.

On Tuesday, Abu Dhabi paved the way for members of the public to receive a fourth dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Sinopharm vaccine, the shots most commonly administered in the UAE.

Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre said people who had taken up to three doses of either vaccine, or a combination of the two, could receive an additional dose after six months had passed.

More than 23.7 million vaccine doses have been administered to the public since the start of inoculation in December 2020.

About 95 per cent of the UAE public is now fully immunised against Covid-19.

During the briefing, Dr Farida Al Hosani, a government health spokeswoman, urged the public to be immunised for their own protection.

She said the expansion of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine programme to include children aged 5 to 11 was a step towards the country’s recovery, but commitment to safety rules remained crucial.

“We urge community members to adhere to the precautionary measures, by wearing face masks, avoiding overcrowded places and constantly sanitising,” she said.

“The health of our community is a priority and is everyone’s responsibility.

“The vaccine is not a substitute for adhering to relevant precautionary measures, such as wearing face masks, respecting social distancing and sanitising, among other protocols.”

Updated: February 10, 2022, 9:35 AM
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