Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 31 May 2020

Coronavirus in the UAE: All of your questions answered

Here's what the 'stay home' order, travel restrictions and store closures mean for you

With mall closures, border restrictions and strict “stay at home” orders, the UAE government is stepping up efforts to tackle the spread of the coronavirus.

From Wednesday, 25 March at the latest there will be no flights, and markets and shopping malls began closing from Monday.

The only retailers to remain open will be supermarkets and pharmacies. Restaurants and cafes will offer only home deliveries with no dining in.

No official order has been given yet for employees to stop attending work in person, but officials have strongly advised working from home.

Here we try to answer your questions using the official advice to date.

Can I still walk the streets?

No – trips should be strictly limited to purchasing essentials or visiting family members if urgent. You should also keep a two-metre distance from other people when outside your home.

You should only leave home if it’s “absolutely necessary to get essential supplies, such as food and medicine”, state news agency Wam reported.

A lot of people have asked if they can go jogging. On Wednesday, March 25, top health official Aysha Al Dhaheri told The National all exercise should be taken indoors.

The government has avoided imposing a home lockdown such as in Spain or a curfew as in Saudi Arabia, but does not want people venturing out for no reason.

Are malls closed?

Yes – all malls, shopping centres and markets will close by Wednesday, 25 March at the latest. In Dubai, they closed on Monday, the government said.

This will last for two weeks and may be extended if necessary.

This will not affect supermarkets and pharmacies, so there is no need to stock up on any more food than usual.

Are restaurants open?

Restaurants are open only for home delivery. You cannot visit or dine in.

Many businesses – including pharmacies – deliver online and have increased their delivery teams.

You can read our guide here:

Hotels are allowed to serve any remaining guests in their restaurants - but not accept anyone from outside. Bars serving alcoholic drinks were all closed.

Can I still go to the supermarket in person?

Yes – supermarkets and pharmacies remain open, enabling families to buy essential goods.

Although the shops in malls will close, doors will remain open to provide access to supermarkets. But officials have urged people to shop online where possible.

An update on the use of public transport and taxis is expected later. Dubai Metro remains open.

For now, families are urged to use their own car where possible, and limit the number of occupants in the vehicle to three.

Can I still go to work?

The government has not told companies to close, but officials have strongly urged employees to work from home where possible.

They reiterated that leaving the home should only be on the conditions outlined above.

Police have patrolled the streets since Tuesday and in some cases told anyone out without good reason to return home.

Some companies have asked employees to take unpaid leave or cut salaries temporarily.

Our guide here explains your rights as an employer and employee

Should I go to the doctor or hospital if I feel unwell?

Not unless it is “critical to do so and it is an emergency”. If you must visit a hospital, wear a mask in case you have the virus.

Doctors have reported a surge in people going to hospitals with colds or no symptoms at all.

To reiterate, the symptoms are:

Continuous dry cough – this is not the need to clear your throat but repeatedly coughing for no reason throughout the day, and without mucus coming up, which is common with a cold.

Fever – this not simply feeling overheated but having an internal body temperature of above 37.7C (100F)

If you are sneezing, have a runny nose and a headache, you may be ill – but it’s probably the same common cold you would catch at this time of year. You should keep an eye on your condition, but not panic.

If you have come into contact with someone confirmed to have the virus or travelled to a major outbreak area, or both, you should contact the numbers listed in this article.

You can read our full guide here

Can I travel at the moment?

All inbound, outbound and transit flights were suspended for two weeks from March 25. The government gave airlines and airports 48 hours from the early hours of Monday.

The only flights that will be operating are bringing home Emiratis and residents stranded in exceptional cases.

Cargo flights will continue to operate to deliver goods to the UAE and as international demand remains high.

Note: This article has been amended for clarity and for the latest updates

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