UAE to enforce ‘more stringent’ punishments for COVID-19 rulebreakers: NCEMA

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The United Arab Emirates will begin to enforce harsher punishments against COVID-19 regulation rulebreakers amid a spike in case numbers, said the country’s crisis management authority.

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A three-pronged strategy of new restrictions, a mass vaccination campaign, and reprimanding violators will bring about a “return to normal life,” said the National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA) in a tweet on Tuesday.

This comes days after new regulations were brought in which included bars and pubs in Dubai closing for the month of February, and new limits on crowd numbers in public places.

“Precautionary & preventive measures, the national vaccination campaign, & enforcing violations came within a thorough framework to ensure a safe environment & a step to return to normal life,” said the NCEMA in a tweet.

“We will witness more stringent procedures against violators in the coming period.”

The UAE’s case rate of around 354 per million is far higher than its neighbours Saudi Arabia, with 7 per million, or Oman, with 33 per million, even as the UAE boasts the second highest level of vaccinations to population on the planet.

Despite this, the country is moving ‘steadily and confidently’ towards containing the COVID-19 pandemic, said NCEMA.

The authority added that the UAE has balanced curbing the spread of the virus with keeping key sectors open for business, including promoting ‘safe tourism,’ just days after a travel ban to the Gulf nation was enforced by the British government after weeks of record numbers of new COVID-19 cases.

“The UAE is moving steadily and confidently towards containing the current pandemic and moving forward through the recovery planning phase with competence and ability through its institutions and members of society, both citizens and residents,” said the NCEMA.

“UAE has remarkable services that any visitor or tourist can enjoy and has succeeded in providing a "safe tourism" experience for visitors of different nationalities, enhancing its reputation and position among the best tourist destinations around the world,” it added.

The director general of the Dubai Health Authority, Humain al-Qutami, was replaced by Awad Saghir al-Ketbi, as announced on Sunday, with no official explanation given.

With Reuters

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