Coronavirus: UAE to close all malls, shopping centers for 2 weeks in 48 hours

Pink flamingoes feed in the mud flats at the Ras al-Khor Wildlife Sanctuary in Dubai, with the city skyline seen in the background, on March 18, 2020 as the site has been closed to the public amidst the coronavirus pandemic. (AFP)

The UAE will close all malls, shopping centers, commercial centers, and open markets except for fish, vegetable and meat markets 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.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coroanvirus section.

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. As with the decision on shopping centers, it will come into practice in 48 hours.

UAE further limits human contact

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 COVID-19 virus 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.

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.

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.

Read more: Social distancing flattens coronavirus curve, but outbreaks might not be over: Expert

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 taht the government is “infinitely” prepared to supply everyone in the country with food and medicine last week.

Read more:

Coronavirus: All you need to know about what is closed, banned in UAE

Coronavirus: Emirates Airline suspends most passenger flights

Coronavirus: Dubai closes all hotel bars, pubs, lounges

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 10:02 - GMT 07:02
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