GIUSEPPE CACACE | AFP | Getty Images
Residents of Dubai, the oil-rich Gulf Monarchy’s tourist and commercial center, have already been stranded for two weeks, with all businesses except essential activities closed and no outdoor activities allowed, including exercise.
As of Sunday, leaving home for trips deemed “essential” – which only include visits to the grocery store, pharmacy or doctor – now requires a permit issued online by the Dubai police, with a new permit required for each trip. A mask and gloves must be worn outside the house at all times, otherwise police will act. The rules are in effect for two weeks, subject to renewal.
Permit applications must be made online to the Dubai police, in which case the applicant is expected to receive a one-time SMS login code. The application then asks you to enter your telephone number, address, national identification number, reason for departure, destination, date and time of departure and return, as well as the license plate number. ‘registration if you drive. Once approved, you have 24 hours to use the single permit.
Dubai launched a citywide disinfection campaign last week, with a curfew in place between 8:00 p.m. at 6:00 a.m., during which time residents needed government-issued permits to leave their homes. Now the rule applies 24 hours a day as the government tries to stem human movements to curb the spread of the virus in the emirate of 3.3 million people. The movement permit requirement does not yet apply in Abu Dhabi or other emirates.
Police checks are common in many areas and radars have been used to flash all cars on main roads during curfew hours, with fines being applied to those who did not pre-register for an essential mission. Individuals arrested by police outside without a license are at risk of being fined or even prosecuted, authorities said.
“The fact is that they work”
Like many countries around the world, efforts are aimed at fighting the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected 2,076 people in the United Arab Emirates and killed 11, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide, more than 1.3 million people have been sick and more than 74,000 killed.
Although controversial to some, medical experts approve of the strict measures as effective in slowing the spread of the disease.
“The fact is, they work,” Dr. Dale Fisher, professor and expert in infectious diseases in the Department of Medicine at the National University of Singapore, told CNBC. “If you lock everyone in your home and no one is allowed to mix, then obviously the virus cannot pass from one person to another. “
Strict foreclosure rules are not sustainable in the long run, Fisher acknowledged. But he said they are effective as long as health authorities and governments take action in the meantime to prevent the resurgence of infections when things start again. That means rigorous testing, isolation of cases, contact tracing and mitigation policies, he said.
“Extensive testing” of densely populated areas will begin “soon,” confirmed the United Arab Emirates Supreme Committee for Crisis and Disaster Management over the weekend.
By quickly suppressing the movement, Dubai may have saved a lot of problems, said Fisher.
“I think it’s better to do it sooner than later. Dubai seems like everything has been really strict … Australia and others, for example, had to let everyone suffer before they agreed to do it. “
Authorities recommend homemade masks in times of shortage
The permit system frustrated many residents, some of whom indicated that their requests to leave their home were still “pending” more than 24 hours after their request. But a Dubai police official told CNBC by phone on Monday that the delay in approving the applications was intentional, as it would slow the number of people going to stores to shop at once.
Food and grocery delivery services remain full service in Dubai, with many residents simply opting to order their groceries online or by phone.
As a resident of Dubai, I applied for a permit to go to a nearby grocery store later this week, and my request was approved within 15 minutes.
A sign indicating that the beach is temporarily closed is seen on March 22, 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Authorities have announced that all beaches in Dubai will be closed until further notice to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Photo of François Nel | Getty Images
Residents of Dubai have expressed concern over the challenge of finding masks and gloves, which are sold in many stores and pharmacies in the emirate.
UAE officials have expressed awareness of the shortage of these supplies across the country and have recommended that people make their own masks at home, just as the United States Centers for Disease Control has already done.
Farida Al Hosani, a spokesperson for the government’s health sector, urged those who could not find masks to “use homemade masks made of cotton or cotton blend, making sure to wash them again”.
“When I wear a mask, I protect you and when you wear it, you protect me,” said Al Hosani, according to the UAE daily The National.