Combating covid 19: Q&A with UAE officials about opening shopping malls during Eid.


“We must ensure a balance between business continuity and public safety needs,” the official explained.

In the regular media briefing held on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Dr. Amna Al Dahak Al Shamsi, the official spokesperson for the UAE Government, Dr. Saif Juma Al Dhaheri, Spokesman of the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA), Dr Farida Al Hosani, the Spokesperson for the Health Sector, and Imam Abdurrahman Al Shamsi, spokesman for the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (Awqaf), gave an update on the coronavirus-related developments and measures taken to mitigate its impact.

Dr Saif Al Dhaheri said all decisions related to modifying the timings of the National Disinfection Programme are taken following a holistic review of the current conditions. “We take into consideration the readiness of various sectors to receive the public and ensure their safety, especially retail outlets and shopping malls. Their compliance with the precautionary measures, including maintaining safety distance and placing a cap on staff and customers’ numbers is of paramount importance. We must ensure a balance between business continuity and public safety needs,” he explained.

“Since the onset of the crisis, the majority of UAE society has been living up to responsibility, setting an honourable example of compliance with preventive measures and collaboration with the government in implementing all measures required. We are certain this cooperation on the part of our citizens and residents will persist during the Eid holiday.”

“However,” he adds, “there are some violations perpetrated by some who fail to comply with the decision to ban congregations and to abide by quarantine measures. These violations are committed by a limited number of individuals who we request abide by all measures put in place. We will continue to spare no effort to enhance public awareness and educate people on the danger of these violations.”

“It is incumbent on everyone to abide by the COVID-19 countermeasures during Eid, as any violations will have an adverse effect on the entire society,” he warned. He added that violators will be subject to penalty and disciplinary action.
Al Dhaheri also reiterated the importance of not distributing Eidaya (money gift to children during Eid), citing research which confirmed the virus may be transmitted through banknote.

“The decision to keep malls open for certain hours during Eid came after ensuring they have applied all preventive measures, including working at 30 % capacity, enforcing a two metre safety distance, and prohibiting the entry of people over 60 years of age and children below 12; in addition to restricting the shopping trip for any person to a maximum of two hours,” he added.

“Practicing sports is allowed only from 6am to 8pm,” he said, noting that walking, jogging and cycling should be done only near one’s home for up to two hours with a maximum of three people together. Social distancing and the wearing of masks is also mandatory.

For his part, Abdurrahman Al Shamsi, spokesman for Awqaf, said that due to the current exceptional circumstances, the Fatwa Council of the United Arab Emirates has decided that Eid prayers will be performed at home to ensure safety, and mosques across the country will remain closed. All mosques will declare Takbeerat Al Aid (Eid chants) through their microphones 10 minutes prior to the prayer.

He stressed on the importance of celebrating eid while entirely abstaining from physical visits and gatherings to ensure the safety of all, especially the elderly, children and sick people.

Here’s a rundown of what health authorities discussed:

Q-Can the virus spread through swimming pool water?

A: There is no evidence of this so far that it can spread through swimming pools of resorts and hotels. But people are advised to avoid using others’ towels, seats, and to maintain social distancing norms. The operators of these resorts are advised to strictly follow the guidelines.

Q-Are you going to have educational programme for boosting the immunity of children?

A: The main advise for them is to wash their hands regularly to sterilize surfaces and focus on changing social practices like avoiding shaking hands and keeping a safe distance of two meters or more. Children are least subjected to Covid-19 complications They don’t have symptoms in most cases.

Q-What can the increased recovery numbers be attributed to?

A:The latest technology in treating patients can be attributed to the increased recoveries in the country. UAE is one of the pioneering countries to use plasma treatment and anti-viral treatment.

UAE followed a strategy to mass test and include the largest number of members of society in order to identify as early as possible. Increasing the treatment capability by assigning a large number of hospitals to deal with any crisis. Human resources and medical equipment also played a big role in the increasing number of recoveries.

Q: Why did not close the shopping malls during Eid?

A: The decision is opening shopping centers is based on implementation of precautionary measures like limited umber of shoppers and social distancing in shops.

Is it possible to practice sport during National Sterilisation?
Only between 6am and 8pm. For max 1-2 hours and not collective sport. Max 3 individuals from the same house can exercise around their house, while maintaining social distancing norms and wearing masks

Q. Why is there a prohibition on distributing currency notes?
A. There are studies that talk about the possibility of the spread of Covid-19 through banknotes and coins. The children are recipients of Eid and can be vulnerable. We advise the public to use digital means

Q. Can UAE society be responsible during Eid?
A. UAE has been responsible so far and we trust that they will do it during Eid too. 

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