Residents in the UAE capital can expect more inspections and monitoring campaigns during Ramadan to ensure compliance with precautionary measures during the pandemic, the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee said on Thursday.
A set of easy-to-understand instructions on how residents should conduct themselves during the holy month was approved by the committee, in collaboration with the Department of Health Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre.
The preventive measures relate to religious practices and activities, as well as social activities.
The guide emphasises the importance of following the instructions to protect and ensure the health and safety of all.
Any offenders will be reported to the attorney general.
Many of the measures derive from the rules implemented nearly a year ago to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Residents are reminded "that no food may be distributed from private residences, mosques or restaurants. Instead iftar meal donations are allowed through online distribution platforms".
Paying zakat and alms donations should "be done online through the websites of various charities".
Families and friends are also instructed to "gather virtually during Ramadan nights, instead of physical gatherings and home visits", while Ramadan greetings and wishes should be extended "through online communication platforms instead of physical gatherings or attending majlis".
Shoppers are advised to "minimise visits to grocery stores" or avoid peak hours, use electronic payment options and disinfect shopping trolleys. Escalators are recommended over lifts elevators and individuals from vulnerable groups are told to avoid going shopping.
The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources said working hours for government employees during Ramadan would be from 9am until 2pm.
The holy month is expected to start on April 12, but the final date will be confirmed by the UAE's Moon-sighting committee.
Authorities said it is a "national obligation" to follow safety measures and help lead the country's recovery from the pandemic.
"The Emirates has followed a pragmatic approach in combating the outbreak, creating a balance between health and economy," said Dr Saif Al Dhaheri, spokesman for the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority.
“But health remains a priority over everything else.”
Officials said the public should follow nationwide restrictions.
“We will have inspection campaigns and surprise visits to facilities. Those breaking the rules will be held accountable and facilities may be shut down,” Dr Al Dhaheri said.
“Public health is a social responsibility and following all instructions is a national obligation.”