UAE shuts all malls, shopping centers for 2 weeks

DUBAI -- The UAE closed all malls, shopping centers, commercial centers, and open markets except for fish, vegetable and meat for two weeks to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Restauarants will also be limited to delivery only for the two-week period, which will come into effect in 48 hours from Monday.

The announcement was made by the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention and the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority on Monday via the Emirates News Agency (WAM).

WAM added that the two-week period will be subject to review and evaluation.

In another statement on Twitter, the UAE Ministry of Interior and the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority called upon the citizens and visitors to stay at home except if necessary or for work reasons. The authorities also instructed people to wear face masks and follow health instructions.

All inbound and outbound flights to the UAE will also be suspended for two weeks, subject to review and evaluation, announced the General Civil Aviation Authority and the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority in the UAE.

The new measures are the latest attempt to limit human-to-human contact in the UAE, which is the primary way in which the deadly COVID-19 virus is spread.

The UAE first introduced measures in February, when it announced stopping of flights to Iran, the country which has been the center of the outbreak in the Middle East.

Since then, it has announced the closure of schools for a four-week period and a raft of entertainment and leisure facilities including beaches, gyms, and tourist sites.

Authorities have begun to enforce some of the bans. In Dubai, authorities closed down nine shisha cafes for disobeying orders to close. On Sunday, Dubai police arrested a European citizen for refusing to leave a beach.

However, malls and supermarkets have remained open in the country, as have restaurants and public spaces such as the Marina walk. The latest measures will therefore mean there is less reason for people to leave their houses in the country, in line with health advice to stay indoors and avoid human contact.

Companies are already adapting to the new reality. Dubai taxi company RTA announced new sterilization practices for its taxis, while delivery apps have introduced measures to work toward "contactless delivery."

The UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan reassured residents last week that the government is “infinitely” prepared to supply everyone in the country with food and medicine. -- Al Arabiya English



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