Covid-19 news bulletin from UAE: 294 new cases; permit needed to leave house; no visa violation fines; intercity bus services suspended  04/06/2020 05:45:52  2  Saman Haziq, Ismail Sebugwaawo

Here's a round-up of all the latest developments you need to be aware of:

No fines for expired residency visa-holders until the end of the year

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Sunday announced the decision to cancel fines for residence visa holders until the end of the year. The decision was announced during the cabinet meeting he chaired. During the virtual Cabinet meeting, Sheikh Mohammed also announced the decision to reinforce the nation's strategic stockpile, and directed factories to support the needs of the health sector in the country.

UAE confirms 294 new cases, 19 recoveries

The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Sunday announced 294 new cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, taking the total number of cases in the country to 1,798. MoHAP also announced 19 new recoveries, taking the total number of recoveries to 144 as of April 5. The patients are of various nationalities. The announcement comes a day after the UAE confirmed 241 new cases of the infection.

Company to book ticket for expat worker taking 'early leave'

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, in cooperation with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the General Civil Aviation Authority, and the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, has launched the 'Early Leave' initiative. The initiative aims to enable residents who work in the private sector and wish to return to their home countries to do so during the period of precautionary measures undertaken in the UAE to contain the spread of the new Covid-19 coronavirus.

All fines issued since Saturday night until the permit site was activated have been waivedAll violations of vehicle movement that were caught by radars during the period of restrictive movement from Saturday evening in the emirate are being cancelled. According to a tweet by the Dubai Media Office, all violations from the announcement of decision at 8pm on April 4 until the permits site was activated are being cancelled.The committee also announced it has launched a 24x7 hotline number 800 737648 to answer all queries related to the round-the-clock sterilisation programme and the restrictions on the movement of people and vehicles.

The hotline will provide a reliable official source for accurate, trustworthy and up-to-date information on these recent measures. Members of the public can get immediate answers to their questions by calling the hotline. The service will provide information on topics such as the process for obtaining permits, sectors exempted from the restrictions and general information on the measures.

Avoid Dubai traffic fine by using these roadsMotorists who want to travel from one emirate to another - while passing through Dubai - during the sterilization period will not be fined, Dubai Police have clarified.Radars will not be activated for violating the movement restrictions provided that they use inter-emirates roads like Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed road and Emirates road, and do not stop in Dubai, a statement issued today said.

Dubai suspends intercity bus service

Roads and Transport Authority of Dubai has suspended intercity bus operations until further notice, as part of the national sterilisation program to fight the Covid-19 spread.

In a brief statement tweeted on Sunday, RTA said: Following the National Sterilisation Programme, the Intercity Bus service from Dubai to all areas (Ajman, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Hatta, and Fujairah) will be suspended starting April 5, 2020, until further notice

Grocery stores working hard to meet online delivery orders

Online orders have spiked up and supermarkets and hypermarkets are facing logistical challenges to keep up the increasing momentum. The delivery backlog has mounted for these firms as most residents are opting to order online while staying at home to adhere to the precautionary measures being taken to contain Covid-19.

V. Nandakumar, chief communications officer of the Lulu Group, said they usually use their own customised fleet of vehicles to deliver items. But, due to the current demand, they are working with courier logistics services and other companies with fleets and bikes to ensure quick deliveries. "We have already partnered with two major companies to handle deliveries over the next two weeks of curfew across Dubai," he said.

14 merchants in Dubai fined for hiking prices of face masksDubai has fined 14 establishments for hiking the price of face masks, an essential item as the UAE fights the Covid-19 coronavirus. Dubai Economy on Sunday issued a statement saying that it had imposed fines on 14 merchants, including nine pharmacies in Nad Al Hamar, Al Mizhar, Nad Hessa, Sheikh Zayed Road, Hor Al Anz, Al Twar, Al Qusais, Umm Suqaim and Al Warqa, for inflating the prices of face masks to exploit the rise in demand for hygiene essentials following the nationwide alert against Covid-19. Five other merchants were fined for tampering with prices, including two supermarkets and suppliers.

UAE oil output boost to offset Covid-19 impact: ICAEW

The total impact of the escalating coronavirus pandemic on the UAE economy will be offset by the increase in oil production, following the collapse of the Opec+ deal, resulting in overall economic growth of 2.5 per cent in 2020, chartered accountancy body ICAEW said in one of the strongest forecasts in recent years. As announced in March, Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. increased oil output to 4.03 million barrels per day effective April 1 from 3.52 million bpd in March in a bid to stabilise the oil market. The oil output increase is in line with a similar move by Saudi Arabia to raise production to 13 million bpd after Opec and its allies failed to reach a deal on production cuts when Russia refused to tighten supply.

345 Britons fly home on special flight

Over 300 British visitors have left for the UK Sunday morning on a special flight arranged by Emirates. The 345 British travellers were among the several hundred visitors who found themselves stranded in the UAE after flights were suspended as a precautionary measure against Covid-19.Patrick Moody, British ambassador to the UAE, Moody thanked Emirates, the UAE authorities and his staff who'd "worked tirelessly" to help identify those who needed to get home.

He promised to look after those who were still staying in the UAE, and urged residents to follow government advice to #StayHome and stay safe.

UAE Central Bank doubles stimulus packageThe UAE Central Bank on Sunday doubled its stimulus package size to Dh256 billion from the Dh126 billion announced last month in order to improve liquidity in the banking sector and mitigate the impact of coronavirus on the economy as a whole.The apex bank also halved local banks' cash reserve requirement, which will allow them to release more funds to individuals and small and medium businesses in the coming months to overcome credit crunch.

The new funds now consist of Dh50 billion capital buffer relief, Dh50 billion funds available at zero cost to extend finance, Dh95 billion to ensure enough liquidity in the market and a Dh61 billion reduction of cash reserve requirements.

The local banks were also provided relief on implementation of Basel III capital standards by Central Bank, postposing it to March 31, 2021, to lessen operational burden during these tough times.

Enoc Link announces free fuel service for vehicles Enoc Link, the group's fuel delivery digital venture, extended its support to Dubai Municipality's national disinfection drive to curb the Covid-19 outbreak by dedicating mobile fueling trucks to provide free petrol and diesel fuel to all the vehicles and equipment used in the campaign across all locations in Dubai. Dedicated Enoc Link diesel trucks with a capacity of 5,000 litres and 2,600 litres trucks carrying Special 95 petrol were exclusively fueling Dubai Municipality's fleet of vehicles and equipment, saving the disinfection fleet travel time to refuel. Convenient refueling of the fleet enhanced the campaign's operational efficiency contributing to timely disinfection and sterilisation measures.

First public-private partnership

The Sharjah Municipality has teamed up with government as well as private sectors to carry out the sterilisation drive across the city. It is for the first time that the private establishments have joined hands with the civic body in an initiative. A number of equipment, mechanisms and qualified staff are being used in the operation. The teams set out exactly at 8pm and continue the sterilisation exercise until 6am. Thabet Al-Tarifi, director-general of Sharjah Municipality, assured that the sterilisation programme is following a systematic plan and the joint efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus will yield results.

UAE cop praises medic driving home after work at 2am

It was 2am and all the roads of the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah were empty, except for police patrols roaming everywhere. They were there to ensure public safety and carry out a full observation of the ongoing National Sterilisation Program in the country. All of a sudden, a police patrol noticed a white SUV coming from a distance on one of the roads. The driver apparently seemed to be unaware of the restriction of movement of people and vehicles in place."Assalmu Alaikum (Peace be upon you)," a cop said, asking the motorist to show him her driving license and the registration card. The driver, who was wearing a face mask, immediately gave him the papers.

Ajman salons shut temporarily

All ladies' beauty parlours and men's salons in Ajman will be temporarily shut as a precautionary measure against the spread of Covid-19. The order will go into effect as of today and the salons will stay shut until further notice. The Ajman Department of Economic Development (ADED) has directed the owners of these establishments to comply with the instructions.

98% of Ajman residents are committed to #StayHome

The Ajman Police have revealed that 98 per cent of residents committed themselves to stay at home during the national sterilisation campaign, making it easier for the teams to carry out their operation smoothly.Major General Shaikh Sultan Al Numaim, commander-in-chief of Ajman Police, said that this cooperation indicates the community awareness about the importance of precautionary measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.He pointed out that there has been a 50 per cent drop in the traffic accidents in the emirate of Ajman since restrictions on the movement of vehicles were imposed during the sterilisation period.Maj Gen Shaikh Sultan stressed that there were no serious and fatal traffic accidents during the sterilisation hours. He added that there has been a significant decrease in the crime rates recorded at comprehensive police stations. "This is a positive matter that enhances the security and safety of the community, and cooperation of the community members with the authorities concerned needs to be lauded."

RAK debunks 24-hr curfew rumours

The Ras Al Khaimah Police on Sunday denied rumours about a 24/7 movement restriction in the emirate."The traffic restriction remains unchanged. It will be from 8pm until 6am for the next two weeks," said the police. "The news on social media regarding a 24-hour movement restriction is not accurate," they added.

"The public is urged to adhere to ongoing health and safety measures. Gatherings are banned."

UAE expats long for early reunion with children stuck abroadNourhan Sherif was all set to fly home to her family in Dubai on March 24 when the UAE announced the suspension of entry for residency visa holders and airspace closure as a swift move to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Ever since she has been stuck in Budapest where she is doing her masters in Sociology. "The situation is not really good. Almost the whole of Europe is in lockdown. All borders are closed. I was in a panic and wanted to come back to Dubai, but it was too late," Nourhan, 25, told Khaleej Times over the phone. "I grew up in Dubai and that is my home and where my family is. I miss being in the UAE, where we feel the safest. I think things are well managed in the UAE and I would have access to things like medical care," Nourhan said.

Abu Dhabi Police join residents in singing UAE national anthem

In a touching show of solidarity, the Abu Dhabi Police joined citizens and expats as they sang the UAE National Anthem from their balconies during the curfew hours. Ever since the start of the nationwide National Disinfection Programme, residents have been clapping and cheering, and singing the national anthem as a show of gratitude to authorities for fighting the spread of Covid-19. In a video that has gone viral, Abu Dhabi Police officers are seen moved by the expression of gratitude shown by the community, mostly children.

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