Coronavirus: What are the UAE's rules on social gatherings?

Members of the public have been urged not to organise get-togethers at home or in public places

A surge in Covid-19 cases has sparked fresh calls from authorities warning against the dangers of organising social gatherings and parties.

The UAE reported 931 new infections on Friday  - its highest daily total since May 22.

Dr Farida Al Hosani, a health sector spokeswoman, laid out the stark consequences of congregating in large numbers at the country's latest media briefing.

She said 88 per cent of all infections over the past two weeks were as a result of family and social gatherings.

“This is the highest number of cases in four months. On August 10, we had only 179 new infections but in just a month, we have exceeded 900,” said Dr Al Hosani.

“This is a five-fold increase and it requires us to do a self-assessment.”

Part of that self-assessment will involve committing to precautionary measures which have been in place for several months.

Under strict regulations introduced by the country's Attorney-General, Dr Hamad Al Shamsi, gatherings of any kind in public or private, such as parties, are banned.

Small gatherings of up to five or 10 people, depending on the emirate, were allowed during Ramadan but this is no longer permitted.

Why are gatherings such a risk?

Covid-19 is highly contagious and can quickly spread. The rate of transmission increases when large numbers of people are together, particularly if social distancing rules are not adhered to.

Health authorities outlined this point this week when revealing the case of a Covid-19 patient patient whose "reckless behaviour" led to 45 others being infected with the virus.

The man displayed symptoms but did not approach health officials, Dr Omar Al Hammadi, spokesman for the federal government, said at a media briefing.

He infected his wife and 44 others from three families after socialising with them.

One of his relatives, 90, with underlying health conditions was admitted to the ICU and died of complications, Dr Al Hammadi said.

“The reckless behaviour of such individuals is the reason for setbacks. Everyone is responsible. We should follow all precautionary measures and avoid gatherings that can put us and the community at risk."

As well as being a potent health hazard, such get-togethers are against the law.

Can I be fined for hosting a party?

Official directives state that a Dh10,000 will be delivered to anyone who invites or organises gatherings, meetings, private and public celebrations or is present in groups at public places or private farms. Participants will also be hit with a fine of Dh5,000.

On Thursday, Abu Dhabi Police announced they had halted a wedding reception held at a home in the emirate.

Police said the bridegroom, his father and the father of the bride would face legal action and fines of up to Dh10,000 each for organising the event.

Authorities will crack down on offenders

Dr Al Hosani said authorities will get stricter and increase inspections to catch those who flout rules.

The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority will carry out more inspections and will hold offenders accountable.

“Individuals and institutions will be fined based on the decision of the Attorney General,” she said.

“We all have to commit. Some people are not taking precautions seriously and are celebrating at home with guests. Any family that wants to celebrate should do so with a small number of members in line with the safety measures.