The United Arab Emirates stepped up preventive and precautionary measures to control the spread of COVID-19 around the time the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a pandemic on Mar 11. The country registered 85 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as at Mar 15, according to data from the WHO.
These are the measures in place as of Mar 15:
- Mar 15: UAE Football Association suspended all matches during the 2019-2020 season starting from Mar 15 for four weeks. The decision covers all competitions organised by the association, including the Arabian Gulf League and the activities of the country’s national teams, the two women’s football committees and private academies.
- Mar 14: Central Bank of the UAE announced 100 billion dirhams economic support scheme for retail and corporate customers affected by COVID-19. The measures kicked in Mar 14. The Targeted Economic Support Scheme consists of 50 billion dirhams from the CBUAE funds through collateralised loans at zero cost to all banks operating in the UAE and of 50 billion dirhams funds freed up from banks’ capital buffers. The CBUAE is reducing the amount of capital banks have to hold for their loans to SMEs by 15 to 25%. This change, which is broadly in line with the minimum standards set by the Basel Committee, will facilitate further access of SMEs to financing. Details can be found here at the central bank website.
- Effective Mar 17, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GACA) will suspend all inbound and outbound flights with Lebanon, Turkey, Syria and Iraq, until further notice.
- Effective Mar 17, the UAE Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship will suspend all visas to foreigners, with the exception of diplomatic passport holders. The decision does not apply to those who already have their visas issued prior to the aforementioned date.
- Mar 15 to Mar 26: UAE government activating remote work for a segment of federal government employees. The time frame is subject to renewal. The decision also stressed that all ministries and federal departments are to capitalize on effective use of advanced technologies and digital platforms to serve members of the public, with aim to decrease visits by members of the public to their centres.
- Effective Mar 13: UAE General Civil Aviation Authority suspends all inbound and outbound flights with Italy, with the exception of Rome.
- Effective Mar 12: UAE General Authority of Sports suspends until further notice all trainings and competitions for sportspersons aged 18 and below across all clubs, academies and public places nationwide.
- Mar 14: Entertainment outlets suspended by Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development as of Mar 14. These include movie theatres, videogame centres and lounges. Transgressors could face penalties between 3,000 to 10,000 dirhams and closure of the facility in the case of a repeat infraction.
- Mar 15: Abu Dhabi Department of Health adopts remove working system
- Mar 15: Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) temporarily closes its trading halls in its main offices in Abu Dhabi as well as those in other emirates from Mar 15 until further notice. Operations will not be affected by the closure, said the ADX as it also offers a digital trading platform.
- Mar 15: Etihad Airways made temporary changes to its route network on Mar 15. Changes include: 1) All flights to Milan suspended until Apr 30, while flights to Rome (EY85/86) were suspended until Apr 30, and the other Rome flight (EY83/84) suspended until Jun 30; 2) All flights for Istanbul, Beirut, Casablanca and Rabat suspended from Mar 16 to 31; 3) All flights for Amman, Madrid and Barcelona suspended from Mar 17 March to 31. The airline noted that future changes to the route network may occur due to government directives in key markets. For passengers impacted by flight cancellations, procedures are in place for fare refunds or for flight changes when services resume, the airline continued.
- Mar 15 to Mar 31: Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism temporarily closes cultural sites in the emirate effective Mar 15 to Mar 31. These include Louvre Abu Dhabi and Manarat Al Saadiyat.
- Effective Mar 15: Abu Dhabi tourist attractions, theme parks and cultural destinations temporarily closed from Mar 15 to Mar 31. These include Yas Wateerworld Abu Dhabi and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
- Mar 16: Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry starts partial remote work programme starting Mar 16.
- Mar 12: Dubai Executive Council outlined precautionary steps, including suspending fingerprint attendance machines and activating the ‘Smart Employee’ app, and allowing pregnant female employees, elderly employees, employees with disabilities and employees with diseases that compromise the immune system to work from home.
- Mar 11: Dubai Municipality implemented sterilization procedures in private schools in Dubai.
Mar 15: Entertainment outlets suspended by Ajman Department of Economic Development and Ajman Tourism Development Department, effective Mar 15 until the end of March. Inspections will be conducted across movie theatres and videogame centres and lounges to ensure compliance.
- Al Ain zoo temporarily closed from Mar 15 until further notice
- Sharjah Human Resources Directorate activates remote work or work from home option for certain categories of employees in government offices, starting Mar 15.
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