Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in United Arab Emirates extend closure of places of worship April 9 until further notice due to COVID-19.

This alert affects United Arab Emirates

This alert began 09 Apr 2020 20:46 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
On April 9, authorities in the United Arab Emirates have extended the closure of places of worship until further notice as part of the country's efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Dubai's Department of Economic Development (DED) extended the closure of commercial activities in Dubai Emirate until April 18. DED had ordered the closure of commercial centers, shopping malls, and open food markets March 22 for a period of at least two weeks. The closure does not apply to grocery stores, medical services, and other essential services.

Previously enacted restrictions in the UAE include:

  • A nationwide 2000-0600 curfew is in place through at least April 15;
  • Officials in Dubai suspended metro and tram services from April 5 until further notice;
  • On April 4, authorities in Dubai extended sterilization operations, which had previously been taking place between 2000-0600, and aim to disinfect public spaces; officials have now extended the operations to 24 hours per day for a period of at least two weeks;
  • Movement limitations remain in place: officials will only permit residents 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;
  • 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 from March 25 for at least 14 days;
  • Officials are imposing a ban on entry to valid visa holders who are currently overseas through April 16. Officials initially imposed a two-week entry ban on visa holders March 19;
  • Officials are imposing 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;
  • All government employees are required to work from home. 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;
  • Officials are imposing an indefinite prohibition on entry by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals, which entered into effect March 20;
  • Officials are imposing an indefinite ban on Emirati citizens traveling abroad since March 18. Work permits were suspended effective March 19, with the exception of internal transportation permits and employment permits for Expo 2020;
  • Officials are suspending the issuance of all visas to foreigners, except those with diplomatic passports as of March 17;
  • 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, beaches, public parks, swimming pools, movie theaters, and gyms remain closed.


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

Dubai Movement Permits: www.dxbpermit.gov.ae