DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — On the surface, Dubai’s party scene feels as vibrant as ever — bustling restaurants and bars, beaches and resort pools occupied by relaxed residents and tourists taking within the iciness sun.
But daily document-hitting Covid-19 infections within the Heart East’s commercial and holiday hub have made chatter of a potential new lockdown unavoidable.
“Or no longer it’s getting really bad. How long did they deem they may get away with this?” Farah S., a lawyer working in Dubai, told CNBC.
New cases recorded on Monday reached an all-time daily high for the country at 3,591, according to the UAE’s Ministry of Health. When the country imposed its strictest lockdown in March and April that saw stay-at-home orders and total border closures, daily cases were less than one-tenth of that resolve.
Moral last week, the barren station emirate of 3.3 million — whose financial system relies heavily on tourism and hospitality — had begun making changes that belie the government’s messaging that all the pieces is below control.
On Jan. 21, authorities directed all Dubai hospitals to suspend non-essential surgeries for a month. Around the same time, a directive went out suspending all “entertainment activities” in restaurants and bars. The cap on weddings, social occasions and private parties has been reduce to 10 of us from 30. Restaurants and cafes, from Jan. 27 onward, would require increased space between tables and less of us per table.
Clients and gear in gyms must now be spaced 3 meters apart as against the prior 2 meters, though that 2-meter requirement was often no longer very judiciously applied within the primary place.
A mask-clad Israeli tourist within the ancient al-Fahidi neighborhood of Dubai on January 11, 2021. As grand of the sphere tightens lockdowns amid COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Dubai remains initiate for tourism, branding itself as a sunny, quarantine-free escape — regardless of a sharp upward push in cases.
KARIM SAHIB | AFP via Getty Images
Dubai on Sunday fired the head of its health department, replacing Humaid al-Qutami, who had held the post since 2018, with a new appointee. Authorities did no longer give a reason for the replacement and did no longer respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
Some Dubai residents have claimed that hospitals are running out of ICU beds, though this may no longer be confirmed as hospitals and health authorities did no longer respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.
But over the weekend, the UAE’s health ministry published a post on its Instagram tale headed with the words “URGENT HIRING”, offering temporary contracts for ICU nurses in Dubai as effectively as the emirates of Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah. This came accurate days after the advise to halt non-essential surgeries.
To date, the UAE’s total confirmed cases count at 281,546, with 798 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins College. Its death rate of 0.3% is significantly below the global average.
After retaining its cases effectively below 2,000 per day for all of 2020, Dubai emirate — which adopted a strategy of openness in contrast to the UAE’s more conservative capital Abu Dhabi — billed itself as a pandemic success tale.
It was licensed as a “Safe Travel” destination by the World Tourism Council last summer, drawing celebrities and influencers. Resorts and theme parks saw jumps in occupancy and tourists from all over the sphere flocked to Dubai for a sense of grand-uncared for normality. Mask-wearing remained ubiquitous and checking out is broadly available.
Cristiano Ronaldo attends the Dubai Globe Soccer Awards at Armani Resort Dubai on December 27, 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Photo by Francois Nel | Getty Images
Moral within the past two months town has hosted golf and polo tournaments, having a impress and film festivals, and concert occasions, promoting its image as safe and welcoming ahead of its long-anticipated World Expo 2020, which was postponed to October 2021 because of the pandemic.
But the new and highly-transmissible coronavirus variant first diagnosed within the U.Okay. is suspected to have triggered the latest case spike as thousands of British tourists poured in over the holidays to escape harsh U.Okay. lockdown. Daily tallies have more than tripled contained within the span of a month since Dec. 30.
Woman sunbathers sit along a beach within the Gulf emirate of Dubai on July 24, 2020, whereas within the back of is considered the Burj al-Arab resort. After a painful four-month tourism shutdown that ended earlier in July, Dubai is billing itself as a safe destination with the sources to ward off coronavirus.
KARIM SAHIB | AFP via Getty Images
Andy Pearson, a British engineer living in Dubai, blames the large volumes of tourists he believes aren’t following local safety requirements.
“The police may peaceful enact more checks within the party areas to make certain of us are sticking to the guidelines,” he said. “Tourists don’t care because they can accurate roam home — they’re ruining it for the relaxation of us.”
The Dubai Media Office did no longer respond to a number of requests for comment on whether or no longer a lockdown was coming or what additional changes may presumably be made to combat the upward push in cases.
Another warning signal came last Thursday when Denmark announced a five-day suspension on flights from the UAE over suspicions that the Covid assessments administered to travelers sooner than leaving Dubai weren’t reliable.
“We can’t ignore such a suspicion,” Denmark’s transport minister said, adding that at least one citizen returned from Dubai with the variant lately chanced on in South Africa, out of several more who he said examined positive for Covid.
The UAE’s health ministry pushed back on the announcement, asserting that all accredited UAE checking out facilities operate by international standards and are inspected regularly. Talks are underway between the 2 countries, UAE authorities said.
Earlier within the month, the U.Okay. and Israel imposed mandatory quarantine requirements for travelers coming from the UAE. The UAE was beforehand on the U.Okay.’s safe-travel corridor, which had voided the necessity for arrival quarantine sessions.
The Covid-19 case figures consist of your complete country and enact no longer specify the place infections are concentrated. But whereas is Dubai welcoming tourists — some requiring negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test outcomes sooner than boarding and others receiving assessments on arrival — Abu Dhabi peaceful requires anyone flying into the emirate to quarantine for ten days upon arrival. Entrants to Abu Dhabi from Dubai must also provide a series of negative PCR test outcomes.
The trends approach as the UAE’s nationwide vaccination campaign is in elephantine swing, in what is the second-fastest rollout on this planet after Israel.
China’s Sinopharm vaccine is available around the country for all residents aged 16 and older free of charge, whereas Dubai’s Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine rollout that began in late December was announced on Saturday as being delayed. Dubai authorities blame the delay on a “global shortage.”
Smooth, the UAE intends to satisfy its target to inoculate half its population by the cease of March. Last week, it announced emergency use approval for Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, for which Phase 3 trials are peaceful underway in Abu Dhabi.
Certain industries are now mandating weekly PCR assessments for unvaccinated workers, part of what some residents feel is a stress campaign to encourage vaccination. For many living in Dubai, this transfer — and broader restrictions — are welcome.
“I deem they may peaceful lock down for 2 weeks,” said Sara El Dallal, an education consultant living in Dubai. “Restrictions have been put (in place) since last week and peaceful the numbers did no longer decrease.” She noted that government faculties have held their classes online since early January.
Melissa Webb, a Dubai-based yoga teacher, caught the virus herself after getting back from a family talk over with to the U.Okay. over Christmas. But she examined negative upon arrival in Dubai, finest to examine positive three days later when seeking to enter Abu Dhabi. She shared her tale as a cautionary tale.
“Clearly I have been glad for some six months of normality, however since Christmas I feel very on edge again,” she said.
“But I acknowledge the necessity for the financial system to stay initiate, otherwise shall we no longer be able to are living right here for a lot longer anyway.”