DUBAI: The UAE directed most of the public and private sectors to have the majority of staff work from home, and imposed overnight curfews as a temporary measure for a nationwide disinfection to combat the coronavirus.
The country, which has confirmed 333 cases of the virus and two deaths, has not announced an official curfew or work suspension but has increasingly clamped down on movement.
Authorities announced restrictions on movement of traffic and people overnight from last night until tomorrow for the disinfection drive. The restrictions will last from 8pm to 6am.
Only essential service workers would be allowed out and violators will face fines, a security forces spokesman said in a Press conference yesterday.
Public transport including trams and metro services will be suspended, while private cars, taxis and delivery vehicles can operate outside those hours.
The UAE has slowly followed other Gulf states in suspending passenger flights and closing public venues such as restaurants and malls. Dubai on Wednesday directed the private sector to implement remote working for most staff but exempted a broad spectrum of businesses.
The UAE government yesterday ordered all federal ministries and establishments and the private sector to limit the number of staff in offices to 30 per cent.
It exempted sectors providing essential services including health, finance, energy, telecoms, security, military, cargo and food.
Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have taken the most drastic steps, including imposing partial nationwide curfews and suspending work at most public and private sector establishments.
Kuwait yesterday banned all taxis, directed the state supply company to cover any basic food shortages and said it would disburse a month’s salary to all Kuwaiti students abroad.
The number of cases in Saudi Arabia passed 1,000 after authorities yesterday announced 112 new infections, most of them in Riyadh and Mecca.
They also reported a third death from the virus, a resident in Medina who suffered from chronic diseases.
Kuwait and Qatar also saw more cases, taking the total in the six Gulf states to more than 2,600, with nine deaths.
Saudi Arabia has released 250 foreign detainees held on non-violent immigration and residency offences as part of efforts to contain the spread of the disease, the state-backed Human Rights Commission said.
Bahrain and Kuwait have also announced prisoner releases.
In Qatar, the government’s crisis committee ordered the closure of all non-vital shops, and cafes and entertainment outlets, and restricted the working hours of all other shops to 6am to 7pm.
Pharmacies, grocery stores and delivery services are excluded from these restrictions, the committee said in a Press conference broadcast on Qatari channel Al Jazeera.