Coronavirus: UAE passenger flights grounded, malls to close and stay-home order given

All non-essential stores – excluding supermarkets and pharmacies – will close within 48 hours

Abu Dhabi, UAE - May 29, 2008 -  Carrefour Shoppers in Marina Mall. (Nicole Hill / The National) 
grocery store
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The UAE government urged all residents to stay in their homes unless "absolutely necessary" on Monday.

The decision was also taken to close all malls and markets in the next 48 hours. In Dubai, malls and shops closed on Monday.

Stores selling essential goods including supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open.

All inbound, outbound and transit flights will be suspended in the next 48 hours.

The stay-home request falls short of a complete lockdown and allows families to use vehicles, shop for essential items and visit family members - if urgent. The government has not yet stopped people from going to work - though officials have advised them to work from home where possible.

Emergency authority NCEMA urged the public not to visit hospitals except for critical or emergency cases. If you must enter a medical facility, you should wear a face mask to prevent the spread of the virus. More details about the use of public transport and taxis are expected later.

Restaurants will not be allowed to receive customers. Instead, their services will be limited to home deliveries only.

"The public are also urged to use their own family cars, with a maximum of three individuals per vehicle," the Ministry of Interior and NCEMA said in a statement on state news agency Wam.

The government said the public should stay at home “unless it is absolutely necessary” to buy items such as food and medicine.

Despite the grounding of passenger services, cargo and emergency evacuation flights will continue to run, the Civil Aviation Authority said.

“Additional examination and isolation arrangements will be taken later should flights resume, in order to ensure the safety of passengers, air crews and airport personnel and their protection from infection risks,” it said.