Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 August 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: Abu Dhabi malls can reopen if they meet health and safety requirements

Shoppers should expect to be temperature tested - and all staff must wear masks and gloves

Malls are set to reopen across the country after restrictions designed to contain the spread of the coronavirus were eased.

Dubai Mall and shops along Jumeirah Beach Residence opened on Tuesday after being closed for a month. Mall of the Emirates and Dubai Festival City partially opened at the weekend.

Abu Dhabi’s malls were set to open in the coming days after the authorities gave the go-ahead with some restrictions. Retail regulator Department of Economic Development (Added) said shopping centres must arrange Covid-19 tests for all in-store employees before they can resume operations.

Permits would only be granted to those which had certificates to show their staff tested negative for the virus.

On Tuesday, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) said it tested 20,000 mall and shop employees across the emirate.

The staff were tested at seven of Seha's 14 drive-through Covid-10 screening centres at the weekend, to ensure they are healthy before returning to work. In addition to being tested, employees were educated on the importance of social distancing, regular sanitisation, the appropriate use of masks and gloves and temperature checks for themselves and their customers.

You might not see us smiling behind our masks but we will be pleased to see you

Jumeirah Beach Residence operator Dubai Retail

Malls are among hundreds of businesses that are required to test their staff for Covid-19.

Added issued instructions on Monday to all commercial and industrial companies asking their employees to report for screening. The decision does not affect office-based businesses.

Dubai Holding, which runs Dubai's JBR district, reminded visitors they must wear face masks at all times, and that children aged between 3 and 12 and seniors over aged 60 are not allowed access.

Temperature checks will be carried out on all shoppers and, as with shopping malls, access is restricted to three hours.

"We look forward to welcoming you back. You might not see us smiling behind our masks but we will be pleased to see you," Dubai Holding said on Twitter. (edited)

Mall operators in Abu Dhabi said they were busy deep cleaning their malls in preparation to restart.

Lulu Group, which operates a number of malls in the capital including Khalidiyah Mall, Mushrif Mall and Al Wahda Mall, released images showing its shopping centres being sterilised by a team of workers.

Wajeb Khoury, a director, said every "nook and corner" of the group's malls were being deep cleaned to ensure the safety of shoppers and staff.

Dubai Mall, which was initially due to reopen on Friday, the first day of Ramadan, delayed its restart until Tuesday.

"The health and safety of our customers, employees and tenants remains our top priority," the mall announced, saying it is "undertaking extensive preparations in order to be able to safely re-open".

Ibn Battuta Mall, Nakheel Mall and Dragon Mart reopened on Monday, with The Pointe scheduled to follow suit on Wednesday.

In Dubai, mall operators were asked to adhere to a series of guidelines to protect staff and the public.

People over the age of 60, and children between three and 12 cannot visit malls, and shoppers must wear masks and have their temperatures checked when entering.

Government guidelines mean malls may only allow 30 per cent of the usual capacity of shoppers to enter at any given time.

In Abu Dhabi, operators must create separate entrances and exits, the installation of hand sanitising stations and thermal scanners to check people’s body temperature, plus the use of gloves and masks for all staff.

Car parking should be limited to 50 per cent of capacity, and there should not be more than one customer per five sq m of store.

Signage promoting hygiene and social distancing should be placed throughout the malls.

Food and beverage outlets should operate at 30 per cent of capacity only and use disposable cutlery only. They should serve a maximum group of four and tables should be spaced 2.5m apart.

The mall should also operate a daily disinfection programme.

The Department of Health said it would conduct workshops to show staff how to wear masks properly and highlight the guidelines they must follow.

Elsewhere in the UAE, Fujairah Municipality announced the reopening of the Friday market.

Ajman Municipality said its cafes and restaurants and cafes would reopen at 30 per cent capaity until 9pm, but shishas and buffets would still be closed. Barbershops and salons reopened on Monday.

Updated: April 28, 2020 08:04 PM

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