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16 Apr 2020 | 12:50 PM UTC

UAE: Dubai indefinitely extends leisure sector COVID-19 measures April 15, Etihad to resume operations May 1 /update 25

Tourism authorities in Dubai announce all COVID-19-related restrictions to be extended until further notice from April 15; Etihad Airways plans to resume operations on a reduced scale from May 1

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On Wednesday, April 15, Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) announced that it will extend all existing restrictions currently in place until further notice to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The department closed all bars, restaurants, pubs, and hotels from Monday, March 16, and has also suspended major events.

On Thursday, April 16, authorities in Dubai announced new restrictions on movement permits, which are required for people to leave their homes. Permits to shop for groceries will now be authorized only once every three days and individuals can only apply for permits for ATM cash withdrawals once every five days. Individuals in Dubai are required to request movement permits online during the current two-week lockdown from Saturday, April 4, through Saturday, April 18. Those who go out for walks, cycle, or drive during the 24-hour curfew may do so exclusively for essential reasons while wearing masks and gloves, and must respect social distancing advice. Only one family member is permitted to go out at any one time. Supermarkets and pharmacies, as well as food and drug delivery services, will continue to operate as normal. Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced that metro and tram services will be suspended during the lockdown. Free bus transportation and a 50 percent discount on taxi rides will be offered in lieu.

An indefinite overnight curfew remains in effect across the UAE's six other emirates. All movement between 20:00 and 06:00 (local time) is restricted, and public transportation is suspended during curfew hours. Those who leave their homes outside of curfew hours without legitimate or pre-approved reason will face fines of USD 544 and individuals violating the curfew may be fined up to USD 13,600. Some food distributors may operate from 08:00 to 20:00 if preventative safety and sanitation risks are adhered to. This includes meat, fruit, vegetable, fish, coffee, and tea shops, among others.

Etihad Airways announced on April 16 that, should the government lift entry restrictions, it plans to partially resume passenger flights in May and June starting on Friday, May 1, with the intention of increasing flight schedules as the global situation improves. While international flights were suspended on March 23, Etihad and Emirates airlines have continued operating departing flights to some international locations. Emirates has also made tickets available for flights from May 1, but has stated that flight schedules have not yet been confirmed.

Authorities have approved an extension of visas that expired in early March through the end of December 2020 for residents that are both within and outside Emirati borders. The policy also applies to those in the country on tourist visas. The entry of all valid visa holders remains suspended through at least April 16, though it will likely be extended.

As of April 16, there have been 5365 COVID-19 cases confirmed in Saudi Arabia, including 33 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.