Coronavirus: Dubai orders most private sector to work from home

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Dubai Economy announced that all businesses were to implement remote working procedures for 80 percent of their employees from today until April 9, 2020.

Pharmacies, cooperative societies, grocery stores, and supermarkets are exempt from the ruling.

Critical sectors are excluded and should take the necessary precautionary measures with due regard to the guidelines of sanitization and social distancing: Health, pharmaceutical, foor retail outlets (including animal feed), industrial and manufacturing, construction, contracting and building materials, security services, logistics and delivery services, supply chain, workshops, cleaning services, cash transport, banking.

The news follows an announcement Monday morning that all restaurants in the UAE would close from Wednesday as part of a general closing of all malls, shopping centers, commercial centers, and open markets except for fish, vegetable and meat markets, and later in the day all restaurants, cafes, cafeterias, coffee shops and food services establishments.

The latest measures are the latest attempt to limit human-to-human contact in the UAE, which is the primary way in which the deadly coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, is spread.

The UAE first introduced measures in February, when it announced measures including stopping flights to Iran, the country which has been the center of the outbreak in the Middle East. All flights to and from the UAE are now due to be suspended from Wednesday.

Since then, it has announced the closure of schools for a four week period and a raft of entertainment and leisure facilities including bars, 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.

The economic fight

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, and authorities react with shuttering businesses and closing borders, analysts have begun to sound the alarm that the coronavirus will cause an economic recession, which may kill more people than the virus.

The UAE government has responded by opening its considerable coffers to help the economy and those effected. On March 14, the UAE Central Bank announced a 100 billion dirham ($27.2 billion) economic support scheme to support the country’s banking system. Two days earlier, Dubai announced a smaller 1.5 billion dirham package for businesses.

Credit ratings company Moody’s Investors Service said later that the central bank’s package would “soften coronavirus’ blow to economy and banks.”

On Sunday, the UAE approved an additional 16 billion dirhams, which has brought the total economic stimulus package to 126 billion dirhams in the country, according to a Tweet from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of the emirate of Dubai.

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