Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Dubai, UAE, to reopen certain businesses between 0600-2300 daily beginning May 27 following COVID-related closures.

This alert affects United Arab Emirates

This alert began 25 May 2020 23:40 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

Authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) plan to allow businesses to open in Dubai between 0600-2300 daily beginning May 27, provided they meet certain public health requirements to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Moreover, all movement restrictions in Dubai will be lifted during these hours. Businesses that will be permitted to reopen include retail stores, educational institutes, gyms, cinemas, and entertainment venues. All individuals will be required to wear protective face coverings and maintain adequate social distancing.

An existing nationwide 2000-0600 curfew remains in place in non-industrial areas, with the exception of 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:

  • Authorities in Dubai allowed tram, marine, and shared transportation services to resume from May 13. Tram services may run 0700-2300 Sunday through Thursday, and 1000-2300 on Fridays. Marine transportation, including the Dubai Ferry, water taxis, and abras can 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) announced they would operate multiple regular, non-repatriation flights to several locations in Europe, the US, Canada, and Australia from May 21. Passengers will only be permitted to fly if they comply with the entry criteria and requirements of their destination countries. 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.
  • Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways (EY) had earlier announced that they would operate several inbound flights from several destinations in Europe, the Americas, Australia, and Asia, beginning May 10.
  • 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.
  • All government employees are required to work from home. Private sector companies and commercial establishments are required to allow at least 80 percent of their employees to work from home. The order exempts companies in critical service sectors, such as security, health, food, logistics, delivery services, industrial and manufacturing, and banking.
  • 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.
  • Major tourist sites and cultural venues, public beaches, swimming pools, places of worship, movie theaters, and gyms remain closed.

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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