Dubai shuts down commercial establishments for two weeks

UAE authorities have also urged Emirati students abroad to return home within 48 hours.
Wednesday 25/03/2020
A picture shows Dubai's Burj Khalifa lit up with a message "Stay Home" reminding citizens to stay home amid the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, on March 24. (AFP)
A picture shows Dubai's Burj Khalifa lit up with a message "Stay Home" reminding citizens to stay home amid the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, on March 24. (AFP)

LONDON - Commercial establishments in Dubai are set to close for two weeks starting March 25 as part of preventive measures announced by the country’s health ministry.

According to an official statement from Dubai’s Department of Economic Development, shops must remain closed until April 8. This does not include outlets such as grocery stores, supermarkets, cooperative societies and pharmacies that provide for basic needs. However, the number of of shoppers in these areas must need exceed 30% of capacity, and customers should maintain a social distance of two metres from each other. 

Also exempted from the closure are bakeries, automobile and other repair shops, laundries and technical and electrical service providers. Restaurants, cafes, cafeterias, coffee shops and food services establishments should close but restaurants and cafes operating in hotels and hotel apartments to serve guests and food delivery and transport services can remain open.

All business are able to continue online sales and e-commerce activities during the closure period.

The new measures come as the UAE, the region’s tourism and business hub and an air transit centre, reports 248 infections of the novel coronavirus that has swept the globe.

The UAE has followed other Gulf Arab states in trying to curb the spread of the virus, urging people to stay at home and practice social distancing measures. However, it has stopped short of implementing an official curfew or suspending work.

UAE authorities have urged Emirati students abroad to return home within 48 hours amid the coronavirus outbreak.

"Students whether on scholarship or studying at their own expense are to return to the country within 48 hours," the state-run news agency WAM said.

The interior ministry has called upon the public to stay at home "except in cases of necessity, including getting essential supplies, such as food and medicine, or going out for work."

"The public are also called upon to use their own family cars with a maximum of three individuals per car. They are also advised not to visit public places and maintain social distancing protocols during family gatherings as part of the precautionary measures," WAM quoted a statement by the ministry as saying.

It also advised the public not to visit hospitals except for emergency cases.

The ministry added that "violators would be subject to legal actions," including fines and jail terms.