Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 13 July 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: Dubai to allow 50% of staff to return to offices

Further easing of restrictions is due to take effect on Wednesday

UPDATE: All Dubai government employees return to offices

Up to half of staff at Dubai companies will be allowed to return to their workplaces from Wednesday, after the authorities eased restrictions.

Dubai Economy said 50 per cent of employees could be in an office at any time, up from 30 previously.

The regulator said shops and retailers could have 70 per cent of staff on duty, also up from 30 per cent.

Officials repeated the need for masks to be worn indoors and employees' workstations to be two metres apart.

A document titled Reopening Dubai repeated the announcement by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, that gyms, cinemas and other entertainment venues could reopen with restrictions.

Children under 12 and adults over 60 remain restricted from entering malls or supermarkets.

One concession allows young people to visit hairdressers outside malls if the salon caters solely for children.

Salons for adults can operate at 50 per cent of their usual capacity, as long as that complies with social distancing rules.

Malls can open any time between 6am and 10pm. Limited valet parking is also now allowed.

As The National reported this week, firms have begun to bring staff back in small numbers after more than 10 weeks at home.

Social distancing measures have led bosses to put employees on rotas to work different days and reconfigure offices to spread them out.

Gyms

Gyms said they were gearing up to welcome customers back for the first time in more than 10 weeks.

Dubai Sports Council listed a series of rules that gyms and sports clubs must follow.

These include reopening at 50 per cent of their maximum capacity and ensuring masks must be worn during light or moderate physical activity.

But masks could be briefly lowered if someone undertook “strenuous physical exercise”.

Plastic partitions must also be put in place between exercise machines.

Things will look a bit different around here, but our heart is still the same and you will leave with the same sense of satisfaction, awesomeness and joy as you did before

Fitness First

Children under 12, and anyone above the age of 60 were not permitted to enter.

A continuous cleaning programme should run in all areas. Changing rooms and showers must not be open.

"Things will look a bit different around here, but our heart is still the same and you will leave with the same sense of satisfaction, awesomeness and joy as you did before," Fitness First said in a message to members.

The chain also shared a list of restrictions, which included limiting members' time to one hour.

Cinemas

Cinema operators were told to check customers' temperature and ensure hand sanitiser was available.

Strict social distancing rules mean viewers must be spread out, both in queues and inside the screens, although families of up to four can sit together.

Seating capacity would be limited to 30 per cent.

Roy Cooper / The National
Roy Cooper / The National

Tickets would be available for online purchase and contactless payment should be encouraged at the counter.

Children under the age of 12 and adults over 60 would not be allowed to enter, and cinemagoers could be required to show their Emirates ID to provide proof if there is any doubt.

A spokeswoman for Majid Al Futtaim said Vox Cinemas, Ski Dubai, Dreamscape and Magic Planet would all open on Wednesday.

She said fogging machines were being used to disinfect large areas and staff would sanitise surfaces regularly. Other measures included the introduction of "safety ambassadors" to ensure viewers were spaced out properly.

Cameron Mitchell, chief executive of Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas, added that to "address any concerns that people may have, we have designed an extensive range of new measures to ensure a healthy, safe and comfortable experience for all".

Numbers in public areas such as restrooms and elevators would also be limited, among other measures to ensure the safety of the public.

Viewers must wear masks at all times.

Night classes

Schools and universities will remain closed to pupils and students and run e-learning programmes until September at least.

But from Wednesday, a limited number of 'training institutes' will be allowed to open as part of a trial.

Dubai education regulator KHDA said that includes professional training courses, computer and language schools and centres running classes in fine arts, calligraphy, music, dance, sculpture, and drawing.

As with other activities, seating must be spaced out, masks worn and any food and drink sold on site must be in disposable containers.

Nurseries, summer camps and with centres for people with special needs all remain closed.

Neena Raina is co-founder at Tender Hearts Arena, which hosts recreational events for pupils with special needs.

We are taking the news positively and will have an online meeting to discuss the next steps forward... but we are yet to find out if parents would want to send their children

Neena Raina, Tender Hearts Arena

She said that even when official permission to open came, she would be cautious about welcoming pupils back.

"Cases are still rising across the globe and I don't think we will ask our children to come back until we are completely certain," she said.

"We are taking the news positively and have an online meeting [with the authorities] to discuss the next steps forward.

"People are still afraid and we are yet to find out if parents would want to send their children to a centre, as many of them use buses."

Despite the easing of restrictions, public beaches and gyms and pools inside residential buildings all remain closed for now.

Abu Dhabi was also gradually relaxing restrictions this week.

Earlier this week, the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi set out an extensive list of rules hotel restaurants, lounges, bars, beaches, pools and gyms must meet before they could resume operations.

Updated: June 16, 2020 07:16 PM

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