Malls in Dubai will have to follow strict guidelines including a ban on children and old people once they reopen their doors to customers, according to new a document issued by the city’s Department of Economic Development (DED) Wednesday.
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The guidelines are some of the first indicators of what life could look like when Dubai begins its gradual exit from its current lockdown, imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus in the emirate. The document outlines the measures that malls must follow under the first stage of the emirate’s four-stage reopening plan, providing regulations for both customers and shops.
“All businesses must take the necessary measures and precautions to be in compliance with the guidelines & protocols detailed in this document, prior to reopening and continue to do so on resuming their operations,” the document listing the new protocols said.
Similar guidelines have also been issued in the United Arab Emirates’ capital city Abu Dhabi. However, the UAE government has yet to announce when malls will open or phase one will commence in either emirate, where lockdowns are still in place.
Stage one of Dubai’s reopening plan will allow malls to reopen, but only at 20 percent capacity.
Customers will be limited to three-hour visits to the mall. It is not clear how this will be enforced.
Everyone entering a mall must undergo a coronavirus health check before being let in.
Visitors to the mall will be required to wear a face mask at all time.
Children aged 3-12 and anyone above the age of 60 – the age group most vulnerable to the virus – will be prohibited from entering.
People will be expected to maintain a two-meter distance from each other in line with social distancing measures. Only family members will be allowed to stand close to each other.
Regulations for shops, malls
The plan also includes regulations for shops and malls to implement.
Malls must install sanitizers in several places on their premises, so people can regularly disinfect their hands throughout their visit.
They will also need to provide separate entry and exit points to prevent crowds forming and will have to close 75 percent of their car parks. Valet parking will be closed.
Shops will be prohibited from holding sales or promotions to prevent overcrowding.
Shop employees will be expected to sanitize each item tried on by costumers, including jewelry, to ensure that the safety of other costumers.
Coronavirus in the UAE
The UAE has so far reported 8,238 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 52 deaths.
The country has since been ramping up efforts to test as many people as possible to ensure the early treatment of cases and prevent the spread of infection.
Almost one million people have been tested across the emirates so far, and the Ministry of Health has announced plans to test all residents and citizens.
While more lenient measures have been imposed in other emirates, Dubai has imposed a strict 24-hour curfew.
Dubai’s curfew was due to end on April 18 but has been extended for an additional week.
However, the same document also suggests the measures will be significantly relaxed during Ramadan, with residents able to visit their families for gatherings of under 10 people and exercise once a day.
On April 13, a family medicine doctor with the Ministry of Health and Prevention said that the coronavirus curve in the UAE could begin to flatten in two to three weeks.
“We hope that we will contain the disease in the next two to three weeks,” Dr. Adil Sajwani told Al Arabiya English.
“But people are still going out, they’re still gathering, some are still having parties, so this is also a challenge.”
As more people are tested and the curve flattens, the UAE could gradually begin to ease restrictions.
After malls reopen, restaurants and cafes could be next, followed by gyms, bars, night clubs, and lounges. Public swimming pools and beaches may come after.
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