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If you’re a resident of the Emirates, you must have heard all the measures that the authorities have been taking to stop COVID-19 from spreading. However, in order to understand these measures, you should be able to understand how this deadly virus spreads.
As per the details from CDC (Centres for Disease Control & Prevention), this virus can be transmitted through man to man contact or from surfaces that are contaminated. The affected people are considered to be most contagious while they are showing all the symptoms, that is, at the sickest stage. However, the transmission may take place even before the affected people begin to show symptoms. The symptoms may include cough, fever, fatigue, shortness of breath, and pneumonia.
For ensuring public safety and health, the authorities in the UAE have taken a few precautionary measures as mentioned below.
The authorities in the Emirates have announced that a new medical city will be established in Abu Dhabi for accommodating the patients of COVID-19. All the logistical, medical, and technical preparations required for setting up the facility far from the residential regions have been completed. It ensures both isolation and treatment of the affected.
The UAE government ordered a shutdown of all the public places that include tourist areas, theme parks, cinemas, amusement and electronic games centres, fitness and bodybuilding gyms, spring camps, night clubs, beaches, cafes, spas, and more.
Keeping in mind the safety of the residents during this coronavirus pandemic, the Dept. of Tourism & Commerce ordered that all the events must be suspended. The entertainment destinations are asked to suspend all the operations and the wedding halls and hospitality establishments are asked to suspend the weddings.
This was amongst the earliest decisions taken by the authorities. They announced that educational institutions will remain closed as a preventive measure to safeguard the students. UAE is promoting distance learning for the students via digital mediums. The kindergarten, schools, as well as universities, will have to adopt methods for distance learning using the e-learning channels.
An additional cleaning operation was also carried out by the municipal department of Dubai for disinfecting the public places for boosting precautionary measures against the coronavirus pandemic. The team worked at popular tourist places and various other public spots. They used steam cleaning, fogging machines, and disinfectant compressed sprayers to guarantee the maximum results. The disinfection was carried out at midnight in order to avoid public disturbance.
MOHAP or the Ministry of Health And Prevention advised the senior citizens in the Emirates- both expats and Emiratis to stay at their homes. It is suggested that they avoid crowded public places for protecting themselves from COVID-19.
The Ministry also requested the people to follow precautionary and preventive measures such as regular washing of hands and using hand sanitizers. Earlier, the guidelines from WHO was adopted by the employers based out of the UAE by implementing preventive and pro-active measures for checking the spread of coronavirus.
Other than this, another advisory was issued by the Ministry that informed the citizens about social-distancing that includes avoiding handshakes, hugging, and other forms of physical closeness.
One essential aspect to ensure public safety and health is controlling the spread of rumours. Rumours spread like wildfire and create either unnecessary panic or indifference amongst people. Therefore, the authorities in the UAE took strict steps against this.
A warning was issued for the rumour-mongers, that the security authorities in the UAE will take strict action against those who are found spreading misinformation. The penalties include jail term starting from one year to many years, depending upon the panic created because of the rumour.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UAE, on March 17, 2020, called their citizens residing in other countries to return to the Emirates keeping in mind the travel difficulties that were arising in the middle of this coronavirus outbreak. The Ministry reached out to the Emirati students and the patients living abroad to get in touch with the UAE embassies across the world or contact them on the number 80044444.
The prayers at mosques and other worshiping places situated in the UAE got temporarily suspended with effect from March 16, as one of the preventive measures against the coronavirus pandemic. On March 18, it was announced that people following the Islamic practices must perform their Dhuhr prayers four units “rakaat” at home rather than Friday prayers.
Attorney General of the UAE Hamad Al Shamsi, on March 18 announced that any person who comes to the Emirates has to abide by the term of home quarantine for 14 days. They also have to agree to the instructions issued by the concerned authorities later. Those who violate this procedure of quarantine, leave their houses, and come in contact with other people would be considered to be violating the public order and law. In such a case, Public Prosecution has the right to take strict against anyone who violates these instructions.
The Ministry of Interior on March 19 announces that starting from March 22, the vehicle owners will have the option of getting their car registration renewed online without any vehicle test and without having to pay the traffic fines.
The UAE government has put a suspension on the entry of all those holding the residence visas that are out of the UAE temporarily on March 19. Even the pre-approved visas were cancelled and the passengers were not allowed to apply for new visas until notified. Issuing work permits was also stopped temporarily as per the announcement of the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation. However, the work permits for the workers as well as intra-corporate transfers of Expo 2020 were exempted from this order.
The Ministry of Interior along with the National Emergency & Crisis & Disaster Management Authority on March 23 asked the citizens to use their personal cars with at most 3 passengers in one car. The order came in effect on March 25th.
The government also ordered the restaurants to not allow any customers. Their services were limited to home deliveries of their food only.
Another order on March 23 by the National Emergency & Crisis & Disaster Management Authority along with the Civil Aviation Authority stated the suspension of all the outbound and inbound passengers as well as transit flights in the UAE as part of the preventive measures against the coronavirus pandemic. The order came in effect on March 25th.
The government also announced that the shopping malls and commercial centres along with meat, fish, and vegetable markets will remain closed for a certain period. However, pharmacies and grocery stores would remain open.
The UAE government urged the residents, citizens, visitors, and all the people living in the Emirates to stay at their home as much as they can. They must leave home only in the case of emergencies or important work.
18) Abu Dhabi Banks’ Initiatives
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, First Arab Bank, and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank in the UAE announced initiatives for SMEs and individuals for relieving the financial stress that they must be experiencing due to the impact of the pandemic on the economy. These initiatives of the banks include a reduction in interest charges, deferring instalments, relief in the bank charged and down payments.
The Road & Transport Authority, on March 25th, announced the steps to be implemented for making public transportation safe in the UAE. This included allowing only 2 passengers in one Dubai taxi at a time, controlling the rides per bus or metro. This was done to ensure the social distance between the riders. It also ensures the control of the doors of the bus to the driver. According to the order, the middle and front doors of the bus will be opened while the rear door will remain shut.
On March 22, 23, and 25th, the governments in the Emirates of Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai respectively announced relief measures for the individuals who might be struggling with banking and rental payments.
Dubai suspended (temporarily) the eviction judgements related to the commercial and residential facilities and the imprisonment judgements related to all the rental-related cases in March & April.
The authorities in Abu Dhabi directed the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department to temporarily suspend all the active rental property eviction cases along with procedures that are executive in nature such as blocking bank accounts, imprisonment, seizure of stocks, assets, and vehicles for a duration of 2 months. This order does not include cases related to labour disputes and alimony.
The Sharjah government announced that it will waive off the rents of the tenants of Jubail and Haraj markets. For a term of 3 months, all the shops in these markets will be exempted from paying any rent.
The government also directed all the private sector businesses that operate within the Emirates to implement a remote working system for 80% of their employees. The establishments not included in this order are cooperative societies, pharmacies, supermarkets, and grocery stores. The government also issued a circular directing the government organizations to implement a 100% remote working system.
On March 26, a 3-day National Sterilisation Drive took place from 8 pm on March 26 to 6 am on March 29. The UAE residents were ordered to remain at their houses during that time, strictly limiting the movement and not going out except for important things like purchasing basic essentials, food, and medicines. People who did not comply with these directives were charged with a fine or jail term.
The UAE Central Bank announced a financial stimulus package of AED 100 billion to offset the slowdown of the country’s economy due to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent impact on the business activities. Further, the UAE Cabinet also approved additional AED 16 billion for the cause along with the governments of Dubai and Abu Dhabi approving stimulus packages in their Emirates. This brought the total stimulus package to AED 126 million.
Other than the government, the insurance sector is also helping its customers in fighting COVID-19. Many insurance customers have been wondering if their life insurance plans would hold if the insured passes away due to coronavirus? Yes is the answer. Whether you have a term insurance plan or a whole life insurance plan, or any other type of life insurance, you will be covered if anything happens to you due to COVID-19.
When it comes to health insurance, as per directives from DHA (Dubai Health Authority) and MOHAP (Ministry of Health and Protection), all the coronavirus related cases should be covered under the insurance policies. DHA stated that all the suspected, as well as confirmed cases of coronavirus, must be considered to be emergency cases. The treatment cost has to be covered no matter the patient holds health insurance coverage or not.
If the insurance coverage is available, the cases must be handled as emergencies as per the insurance regulations. The insurance providers will have to settle all the claims they receive. On the other hand, if the insurance coverage is not available, the cases must still be handled as emergencies and any suspected or confirmed patients will not be charged any healthcare costs at the medical facilities.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected almost a million lives globally and the number is rising every day. Stay at home and follow all the guidelines issued by the government to keep you safe from this virus.
Stay Healthy. Stay Safe.