Coronavirus: UAE Bans Private Parties over Christmas, New Year

A picture taken on July 19, 2020 shows Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure and building in the world since 2009 (total heigh with antenna of 829.8 metres), ahead of the expected launch of the United Arab Emirates "Hope" Mars probe. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP) (Photo by GIUSEPPE …

Authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) banned private parties on Wednesday from taking place over Christmas, the New Year, and the country’s National Day to prevent the spread of the Chinese coronavirus.

The official Emirates News Agency tweeted a list of restrictions that residents and businesses must adhere to over the course of next month, which also includes celebrations for the anniversary of the UAE’s founding.

“With UAE National Day, Christmas Day, and New Year‘s Eve celebrations approaching, we stress the importance of adhering to precautionary and preventive health and safety measures during all activities to tackle COVID19 [Chinese coronavirus],” the agency wrote.

The guidelines were outlined by the UAE’s spokesperson of National Emergency, Crisis, and Disasters Management Authority, Dr. Saif Al Dhaheri:

  1. Concerts can be held only after receiving approval from authorities and only with the application of all appropriate measures.
  2. Official rules for holding celebrations cover five basic basic areas, public health, physical distancing, regulations and policies, digital technology, sterilization and cleaning.
  3. They also mention that private parties and gatherings are not allowed, areas for the isolation of sick individuals must be provided and exit routes at all facilities must be clearly marked using posters.

Islam is the official religion of the UAE and the majority of its population are practicing Muslims. However, the country’s constitution provides for freedom of religion and many of the Western expats living there celebrate Christmas. The various emirates, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, also attract thousands of tourists every year for New Year celebrations and to get some winter sun. Dubai is also known for their elaborate fireworks displays outside the Burj Khalifa when the clock strikes midnight.

With a population of just under 10 million, the country has so far recorded 155,000 cases and 544 deaths. As reported by the BBC last month, the pandemic has had a devastating impact on the region, with many expats living in the UAE forced to return home after losing their jobs in the travel and tourism industries, which represent the lifeblood of the country’s economy.

The UAE’s Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, both reportedly received vaccine candidate doses this month developed by the Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinopharm.

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