UAE reopens malls, eases curfew after coronavirus shutdown

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The United Arab Emirates decided on Thursday, April 23, to reopen malls, cafes, and restaurants and ease lockdown restrictions imposed last month to prevent the spread of coronavirus on the occasion of Ramadan.

Curfew will be from 10 pm to 6 am while malls will be allowed to operate for 10 hours daily starting from midday on Friday, the first day of the Muslim fasting month, an official statement cited by the state-run WAM news agency said. (READ: Middle East braces for bleak Ramadan as virus threat lingers)

Supermarkets, food outlets, groceries, and pharmacies will be allowed to operate round the clock, but mosques will remain shut during the holy month, the statement said.

Dubai was the only emirate among the 7 sheikhdoms making up the UAE that imposed a total curfew while the rest had restricted movement at night.

Dubai government said in a statement that family entertainment facilities will remain shut while restaurants and hotels can be run only by 30% of their staff at a time.

Restaurants and cafes are not permitted to serve shisha or buffet dining and customers must observe social distancing.

Dubai also allowed public transport including metro to resume services from April 26.

The government however required all people to wear face masks at all times and said violators will be fined 1,000 dirhams ($272).

UAE has reported 8,756 cases of coronavirus and 56 deaths.

The restrictions have hit businesses hard, particularly retailers who had expected to cater to a rush of Ramadan shoppers. 

The move comes as Muslims prepare for the holy month of Ramadan, during which believers fast from dawn to dusk and traditionally gather around a family or community meal each evening.

Dubai's shopping centres include Mall of the Emirates, which has its own indoor ski slope, and Dubai Mall which is one of the world's largest and lies next to Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest structure.

The emirate of Dubai has the most diversified economy in the Gulf which heavily depends on trade, retail, tourism, and real estate. – Rappler.com