Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
Take-away/parcel deliveries “with adequate safety precautions” are now being encouraged while customers and employees who exhibit flu symptoms are now discouraged to enter any of the food establishments in Dubai as part of the battle plan against Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
These are among the eight-point directive to all food establishments in the emirate which the Dubai Municipality-Health and Safety Department had issued and that took effect on Mar. 16 (Monday) “till further notice.”
The directive also mentioned that “regular and frequent inspections will be conducted to ensure compliance.”
A Feb. 2019 report, quoting the Department of Economic Development-Business Registration and Licensing BRL Sector, indicated of 1,813 restaurants and cafes as of Dec. 31, 2018 in Dubai. These were heavily concentrated in Bur Dubai, Deira, Hatta as well as in Burj Khalifa, Ayal Nasser, Al Marar, Jumeirah 1, Al Karama, Al Barsha, Al Muraqqabat, Hor Al Hanz, Naif, and Al Garhoud.
The “Obligatory Instructions to Food Establishments” are:
• No selling of more than 50 meals per order.
• No open buffets.
• Waiting areas inside the food premises are off limits to customers.
• Seating tables should be spaced to ensure two meters at least in between.
• Those with automated dishwashing facilities which must meet the disinfection temperature requirements can use regular plates and cutlery. Otherwise, disposable cups and eating utensils must be used in serving food and beverages.
• Used tables must be cleaned and disinfected immediately once customers depart.
On Monday evening this reporter was taken aback when inside a huge supermarket in Sharjah, the trolleys and roller baskets section was empty. There were many shoppers—unusual for the second day of the work week—hauling bulk food and water as well as disinfectant solutions.
Seen beforehand were individuals and families getting out of the premises with cartful of groceries.
Later in the night, she was informed that crowds had been observed at another huge supermarket in another part of the emirate since morning while retail shops inside the mall were almost empty. The same supermarket scene—people busy stuffing their trolleys and baskets with the basics were related through a Facebook chat group as happening elsewhere in Dubai.
At 12 noon on Tuesday, this reporter went to a big supermarket with the replicated scene of Monday evening.
A merchandiser said the supermarket has been attending to the unusual number of bulk buyers since Saturday.
“We no longer have rubbing alcohol. Only hand sanitizers for now,” she replied, when asked where the rubbing alcohol shelves were, adding that they had placed the purchase order for the anti-bacterial compound five days back but no delivery had been made.
Her comment confirmed what a friend of this reporter had said earlier in the day about rubbing alcohol having ran out of stock.
“We went to three (medium-sized grocery stores). It was in the third where we found the small bottle at a (costly price) of Dhs20.00. We bought it.”
According to a Filipina merchandiser from whom Zi bought small Japanese cake, they got memo from Sharjah City Centre management that beginning 18th March, Wednesday, mall shall be open from 12 noon to 8 pm until further notice.
Since the World Health Organization had declared COVID-19 as pandemic on Mar. 11, conversations overheard were about the angst and uneasiness regarding unpaid forced leaves for months, salary cuts, and the domino effect on monthly basic bills and loans.
On the “stay-home” policy which the public and private sectors have adopted, Meetupcall, the home-grown conference provider on Tuesday, reported exponential enquiry rates for subscriptions.
Meanwhile, as a result of the enhanced community quarantine in the Phillipines wherein the entire Luzon Iland is on lockdown, three airlines have suspended their flights to Metro Manila on the given inclusive dates: Etihad (March 18 until further notice), Philippine Airlines (March 20 - April 12) and Cebu Pacific (March 19- April 14).
Emirates’ outstation airport teams from 39 stations including Prague, Newark, Seoul, London Stansted and Zurich devotedly sent off their last passenger flights before the suspension took effect.
Nakheel’s customers include property owners, retail and hospitality tenants and small business operators. The package includes free rental periods for retail and hospitality partners who operate within the Nakheel Malls portfolio.
The resolution stipulates 15 fines starting from Dhs1,000 for failing to wear medical masks indoors by only those individuals suffering from chronic diseases, and those showing cold and flu symptoms or failing to maintain social distancing
Pakistan also reported 4,734 new virus cases, raising its overall infections to 93,983. With the latest 97 virus-related deaths, the highest 24-hour increase to its fatalities, as authorities urged volunteers to motivate people to adhere to social distancing regulations to contain the spread of the virus.
With the Hajj Committee announcing full refunds of the fees for the ensuing Hajj 2020 season, the pilgrimage dreams of thousands of Muslim faithful are shattered.
The group were travelling through Badakshan province to assist security forces in the area, officials said. A local commander was among the fatalities, provincial governor's spokesman Sanaullah Rohani told the media.