Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Dubai Emirate, UAE, suspend metro tram services until further notice April 5 due to COVID-19. Further restrictions possible.

This alert affects United Arab Emirates

This alert began 05 Apr 2020 14:57 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

Summary
Roads & Transport Authority officials in Dubai Emirate has suspended metro and tram services from April 5 until further notice as part of their efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). On April 4, authorities in Dubai also extended sterilization operations, which had previously been taking place between 2000-0600, and aim to disinfect public spaces; the operations have now been extended to 24 hours per day for a period of at least two weeks. Additionally, there are new movement limitations: residents will only be permitted to leave their homes to purchase necessities such as food and medicine, work in vital sectors, or seek medical or emergency assistance. Food and medicine delivery services will continue to operate. Authorities plan to conduct extensive medical tests across densely populated areas of Dubai to ensure that residents are not infected.

Flag carriers Etihad (EY) and Emirates (EK) are to begin operating limited repatriation flights out of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to a select number of destinations from April 5 and 6, respectively. EY will operate repatriation flights to Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, and South Korea. EK will operate repatriation flights to Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the UK. Additional destinations may be added at a later date subject to governmental approval.

Only Emirati nationals will be permitted to board repatriation flights into the UAE. Regular inbound, outbound, and transitory passenger flights remain suspended.

Previously enacted restrictions in the UAE include:

  • A ban on entry by valid visa holders who are currently overseas through April 16. Officials initially imposed a two-week entry ban on visa holders March 19;
  • A full lockdown on the Al Ras area of Dubai through at least April 14. The measure includes a complete restriction of movement and the closure of all shops in the area. As residents are unable to leave their homes, the Dubai Health Authority will provide them with essential supplies until the lockdown is lifted;
  • A nationwide 2000-0600 curfew is in place through at least April 15;
  • All government employees required to work from home through at least April 9. Private sector companies and commercial establishments are also 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;

 

  • Except for certain repatriation flights to select destinations, EY and EK passenger flights remain suspended from March 25 for at least 14 days;
  • An indefinite prohibition on entry by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals entered into effect March 20;
  • An indefinite ban on Emirati citizens traveling abroad entered into force March 18. Work permits were suspended effective March 19, with the exception of internal transportation permits and employment permits for Expo 2020;
  • Issuance of all visas to foreigners, except those with diplomatic passports, suspended as of March 17;
  • Closure of major tourist sites and cultural venues, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum and the Ferrari World theme park;
  • Commercial ships entering UAE's ports required to provide a statement detailing the health status of their crew 72 hours before arrival;
  • Beaches, public parks, swimming pools, movie theaters, and gyms closed for a period of two weeks starting March 22. Commercial centers, shopping malls, and open food markets closed from March 24 for a period of at least two weeks; all restaurants restricted to delivery services only.


The preventative restrictions do not apply to grocery stores, pharmacies, health care providers, banks, or fuel stations. The UAE's Ministry of Interior has urged the public to stay at home and only go out in the event of emergencies or to perform certain basic tasks, such as shopping for food or other goods from essential businesses, traveling to/from the individual's place of employment, or seeking medical assistance.

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.

Advice
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.

Resources
World Health Organisation: www.who.int

Government of Dubai on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dubai_DED

UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs: www.mofaic.gov.ae

Emirates Airlines: www.emirates.com

Etihad Airways: www.etihad.com

Roads & Transport Authority: www.rta.ae