Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Dubai, UAE, further ease COVID-19 related restrictions; some beaches, major parks to reopen May 29, museums June 1.

This alert affects United Arab Emirates

This alert began 29 May 2020 03:12 GMT and is scheduled to expire 12 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport, travel, and business disruptions, increased security

Authorities in Dubai will reopen four beaches (Jumeriah Beach Residence, Al-Mamzar, Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim), major parks, and the Dubai Frame, May 29, as part of measures to ease coronavirus disease (COVID-19) related restrictions. Museums will also reopen at 50-percent capacity from June 1, with only individuals between the ages of 12 and 59 allowed to visit.

Dubai officials previously announced that government employees would begin returning to their workplaces starting May 31. Agencies that had been closed will initially reopen at 50-percent capacity but will return to full operations June 14. Employees who are elderly, pregnant, or have underlying health conditions are exempt from returning to work. Government offices will be required to adhere to precautionary measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Authorities have also allowed businesses in Dubai to reopen between 0600-2300 daily from May 27, provided they meet certain public health requirements, and lifted all movement restrictions in the city during these hours. Establishments, including retail stores, educational institutes, gyms, cinemas, and entertainment venues, are permitted to reopen. All individuals are required to wear protective face coverings and maintain adequate social distancing.

An existing nationwide 2000-0600 curfew remains in place in nonindustrial areas, except Dubai, until further notice. A separate 1800-0600 curfew is in place until further notice for tenants of workers' accommodations and other residences within industrial zones to facilitate the UAE's road disinfection campaign.

During curfew periods, residents may leave their homes only for essential purposes, such as purchasing food, seeking medical assistance, or working in vital sectors. Supermarkets, grocery stores, and pharmacies are permitted to operate 24 hours per day. Shopping malls can operate from 0900-1900. Shops are required to adhere to health guidelines, such as requiring customers and employees to wear protective face coverings, ensuring the percentage of customers does not exceed 30 percent of the store's capacity at any given time, and ensuring a distance of at least 2 meters (6.5 feet) between customers.

Other measures in effect in the UAE include:

  • Tram, marine, and shared transportation services are operating in Dubai. Tram services run 0700-2300 Sunday through Thursday, and 1000-2300 on Fridays. Marine transportation, including the Dubai Ferry, water taxis, and abras operate 0830-2100. Additionally, Dubai authorities reopened public parks and allowed sports and recreational activities in open spaces for up to five people. Residents must wear protective face coverings on public transportation and in public spaces.
  • Emirati flag carrier Emirates Airlines (EK) resumed some regular nonrepatriation flights to several locations in Europe, the US, Canada, and Australia from May 21. Passengers are only permitted to fly if they comply with their destination countries' entry criteria and requirements. Any person wishing to return to the UAE must be an Emirati national or resident. Travelers to the UAE must first receive approval from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship through the Twajudi Resident Service. All passengers arriving in the UAE will undergo testing, a mandatory 14-day quarantine period, and a follow-up test before release.
  • Etihad Airways (EY) plans to operate flights to several destinations in Europe, the Americas, Australia, and Asia, beginning June 16.
  • All visas, entry permits, and identification cards that may have already expired will remain valid through Dec. 31. Officials will also extend residency visas that expired in early March to remain valid through December 2020. Moreover, visit visas that expired in early March and held by persons currently inside the UAE will similarly be extended through the end of 2020.
  • Officials have imposed an indefinite prohibition on entry by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals, which entered into effect March 20.
  • Officials have imposed an indefinite ban on Emirati citizens traveling abroad since March 18. Work permits were suspended effective March 19, except for internal transportation permits and employment permits for Expo 2020.
  • The issuance of all visas to foreigners, except those with diplomatic passports, remains suspended.
  • Commercial ships entering UAE's ports are required to provide a statement detailing the health status of their crew 72 hours before arrival.

Background and Analysis
The UAE's travel restrictions and preventive measures are similar to actions other governments are taking globally in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Individuals affected by the restrictions should consider postponing planned travel. Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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