Dubai halts live entertainment amid surge in virus cases

PTI | Dubai | Updated: 21-01-2021 17:50 IST | Created: 21-01-2021 16:52 IST
Dubai halts live entertainment amid surge in virus cases
Representative image. Image Credit: ANI

Dubai's tourism department Thursday announced an immediate halt to all live entertainment at hotels and restaurants, a day after suspending non-urgent surgeries at hospitals to deal with an influx of COVID-19 patients.

Both decisions come after months of Dubai promoting itself as the ideal pandemic-friendly vacation spot while coronavirus infections skyrocketed. Now, the sheikhdom is showing signs of strain.

Even as cases surged to previously unseen heights in the United Arab Emirates, the city-state of Dubai had been a glimmering desert oasis for tourists fleeing tough lockdowns elsewhere. Since reopening in the spring, the commercial hub has resisted more restrictions that would pummel its economy, built largely on aviation, hospitality and retail.

Despite the ubiquitous masks outdoors, a sense of pre-pandemic normalcy has prevailed in the city. Bands, dancers and DJs had been performing in bars and clubs for socially-distanced crowds. Hotel occupancy rates surged over 70 per cent in December, nearing 2019 holiday levels. The city's airport welcomed over 70,000 travelers for New Year's weekend alone.

Soon countries like the United Kingdom and Israel that had sent droves to Dubai over the winter holidays closed their travel corridors, citing alarm over the UAE's spike in infections.

As late as Tuesday, the sheikhdom's government-run media office was vigorously insisting that things were under control. In a statement, the emirate said it "continues to maintain the highest levels of protection against the pandemic and compliance with preventive measures.'' But on Thursday, Dubai's tourism department announced it had "observed, through field inspection, an increase in the number of violations during entertainment activities." Although bars and restaurants would remain open for the time being, Dubai's media office said it would pause the issuance of new entertainment permits to venues effective immediately to ensure "public health and safety." The office said it issued more than 200 violations for "non-compliance" with COVID-19 guidelines and shuttered 20 establishments over the last few weeks.

"There is a stop to all events and entertainment in hotels and restaurants, and we are working to clarify any ambiguity as to what this means,'' said Khaled Fawaz al-Najjad, press office manager for the tourism department. He declined to say whether the move came in response to the virus surge and gave no time frame for the resumption of entertainment activities. It remained unclear whether the restrictions would extend to parties and wedding celebrations, which the city now caps at 200 people.

Thursday's decisions come after the UAE shattered its infection record for the ninth consecutive day, with over 3,500 cases. The country does not release location data for infections, making it difficult to determine where in the federation of seven sheikhdoms has been hardest hit by the virus.

With its health centers well-staffed and 90 per cent of its population comprised of relatively young and healthy expatriates, the UAE has so far avoided the chaotic scenes of overwhelmed hospitals seen elsewhere in the world. The country has recorded 263,729 infections and 762 deaths.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Addressing conflict-related sexual violence at long last

... ...

Why unequal access to coronavirus vaccines is a threat to us all

... ...

India’s love affair with fossil fuels: the path to sustainable development?

... ...

Videos

Latest News

Cricket Australia suspends Marcus Harris for one match

Cricket Australia on Tuesday confirmed that Victoria player Marcus Harris has been suspended for one match. The suspension came after Harris accepted a charge for abuse of equipment during his sides Marsh Sheffield Shield match against Tasm...

India condemns one-sided false assertions in UK parliamentary debate

The High Commission of India in London has condemned false assertions in a distinctly one-sided discussion among a group of British parliamentarians on Monday on the issue of peaceful protests and press freedoms in India, amidst the ongoing...

Malaysia court allows rights groups to challenge Myanmar deportations - lawyer

A Malaysian court on Tuesday granted international human rights groups the right to challenge the countrys recent deportation of more than 1,000 Myanmar nationals to their homeland, the groups lawyer told Reuters. The Malaysian government d...

Philippine mayor, police officers killed in possible mistake

Police killed a central Philippine city mayor and two of his aides, while two of the police officers were killed in the latest deadly violence involving the police force, officials said Tuesday.I can only assume that this was a mistaken enc...

Give Feedback