DUBAI: The UAE yesterday said it would bar foreign visitors, ban citizens from going abroad and that anyone entering the country must isolate for two weeks, increasing restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Saudi Arabia reported 67 new infections, bringing its total to 238, and suspended most private sector activities, among various moves by Gulf countries to contain the outbreak.
Kuwait recorded 12 more cases, including six Kuwaitis, an American and a Spaniard who had all been to Britain. That took the total number of infections in the GCC to more than 1,100.
The UAE said starting today all arrivals must remain in home isolation for 14 days or face legal action, state news agency Wam reported, citing Attorney General Hamad Al Shamsi.
The UAE also banned Emiratis from travelling abroad and said it would indefinitely stop issuing visas on arrival from today.
The steering committee of countries participating in Expo 2020, a world fair starting in October that the UAE hopes will boost its economy, met virtually to discuss the impact on preparations and said it would reassess in coming weeks.
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are on virtual lockdown after temporarily suspending international flights last week and closing most public venues.
Qatar, with 10 new cases taking its total to 452 – the highest in the GCC – has banned entry of foreigners and said 80 per cent of government employees would work from home.
Oman, which registered six more infections to bring its total to 39, has also prevented foreigners from entering and citizens from going abroad. It yesterday suspended public transportation, excluding buses serving remote areas.
The moves are the latest in a series of exceptional measures to combat the outbreak, including cancelling the Umrah pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia and closing mosques, malls and restaurants across the region.
Saudi Arabia suspended work in most of the private sector for 15 days and directed businesses to implement work-from-home policies.
It said businesses should close main offices, reduce staff levels at secondary locations, limit employees’ contact and monitor them for symptoms of infection.
It outlined exceptions for companies providing vital food and health services or utility services for government agencies. Pregnant women, workers over 55 and those with severe pre-existing conditions must be given 14 days additional leave.
An artificial intelligence summit was postponed to September from March, while the authorities instructed banks to restrict the number of customers served simultaneously, ensure safe distance between them, check their temperatures and provide sanitisers.
Riyadh municipal officials distributed sanitisers to drivers, while police in several Saudi cities patrolled the streets, asking people to leave parks and public spaces, local media reported.