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Coronavirus: Entertainers, hopsitals react to Dubai’s new restrictions

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Doctors and entertainment acts have been left ‘disappointed’ after a surge in COVID-19 cases has led to tighter restrictions across Dubai. This includes suspending live entertainment permits and cancelling non-essential medical surgeries.

Earlier this week Dubai suspended live entertainment permits for hotels and restaurants amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, according to an official circular issued by Dubai Tourism.

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“The Department observed, through field inspection, an increase in number violations during entertainment activities in hotels and restaurants. Accordingly, the Department directs all concerned in hotel establishments and restaurants to temporarily hold entertainment activities as of Thursday, January 21, 2021 until further notice,” the notice addressed to hotel and restaurant owners and managers read.

Authorities have also issued more than 200 violations while shutting down 20 businesses for “non-compliance with guidelines,” according to the Dubai Media Office.

It has left many entertainers facing a spell without work.

For 30 years, quizmaster Phil Richardson had hosted some of Dubai’s most popular entertainment nights, booked bands, and supported up and coming local talent.

Like many other self-employed expatriates living in the emirates, work came to a halt when the global pandemic hit the UAE last year.

After months with no work, Richardson, thought the entertainment industry was back on its feet when the UAE successfully managed to bring down cases. The latest announcement has left him disappointed.

“If certain outlets have been breaking rules then these outlets should be closed and fined,” he told Al Arabiya English. “I run two quiz nights were social distancing is strictly adhered to - teams are seated just the same as eating in the restaurant and I, as quizmaster, wear a mask when not seated reading out the question.

“I also have COVID-19 tests each fortnight and I, like my team, don’t take risks and respect the rules - but I think all are been hit because of a foolish few.”

Not only are local entertainers bearing the brunt of the new restrictions, but so are international performers who had relied on the reopening of Dubai's economy for their income.

DJ Ironik, a London rapper who has released three UK top ten singles, told Al Arabiya English that the new restrictions have “definitely affected” him.

“With the UK being in lockdown and no work here,” he said, “Dubai was my only outlet to work, DJ, and network.

“But promoters and venues have introduced ‘digital mixes’ from DJs to play during the events being held, so even though we’re not allowed to DJ, we’re still being heard.

“I’m sure there will be good times ahead, so I’m keeping positive.”

The Dubai government last week ordered all hospitals to cancel nonessential surgeries until February 19 as coronavirus infections continue to surge to record heights in the UAE.

In a circular sent to government-run and private health centers across the emirate, Dubai’s Health Authority announced that starting Thursday medical operations “may be allowed to continue only per medical urgency” as the city tries to keep its hospitals from becoming overrun.

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Dr Bhuvaneshwar Machani, a consultant orthopedic surgeon at Dubai’s Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery, told Al Arabiya English: “With the recent surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, the decision of the health authorities to defer non-elective surgeries is necessary and very appropriate.

“We have a collective responsibility to fight for the good.”

Dr Machani said while the delay in non-elective surgeries does not adversely affect the health of the majority, some might be suffering from "severe symptoms including severe pain, loss of function and affecting the quality of their lives.”

The decision will also, undoubtedly, lead to loss in revenue for private care providers, said Dr Machani.

“However, being a responsible healthcare provider, we must support the government’s efforts to contain the pandemic. Health is our priority now over businesses.

“Following the safety precautions will protect us from the virus and bring the number of infections down. It is the only way to get back to normality.”

Dubai Media Office on Friday also announced further stricter measures, tighter restrictions on weddings, restaurants, gyms, and social gatherings.

Read more:

Coronavirus: UAE cases continue to increase with 3,566 new COVID-19 infections

Coronavirus: Dubai's latest COVID-19 rules for weddings, restaurants, gyms, concerts

Coronavirus: Dubai suspends live entertainment permits as COVID-19 cases surge

Coronavirus: Dubai orders hospitals to cancel surgeries amid surge in COVID-19 cases