Abu Dhabi brings back some restrictions to curb COVID-19

DUBAI (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, has brought back some restrictions on workplace capacities and leisure activities, including shutting cinemas, to curb a rise in COVID-19 cases.

FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective face masks wait to be tested, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the Cleveland Clinic hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Christopher Pike

The measures follow a raft of restrictions brought in by the neighbouring emirate of Dubai, a regional tourism and business hub which has welcomed foreign visitors for its peak winter season, over the past few weeks.

Only 30% of employees will be allowed to attend workplaces at Abu Dhabi government and semi-government entities and all employees must undertake a weekly PCR test unless they have been vaccinated, Abu Dhabi media office said on Saturday.

Workers that can do their jobs remotely, and those over 60 or with health conditions, must work from home.

VOX Cinemas said on their Instagram account on Friday they will close theatres in Abu Dhabi until further notice to comply with a government-mandated closure of cinemas in the emirate.

Capacities at malls, gyms and restaurants have also been reduced, local newspaper The National reported, citing a notice issued to businesses in Abu Dhabi.

The moves came as daily infections tripled in around six weeks to hit a record 3,977 on Feb. 3 in the UAE. The Gulf state does not give a breakdown for each emirate.

Along with mandatory mask-wearing in public and social distancing, Dubai has further restricted capacity at restaurants, social gatherings, hotels and malls, and banned live entertainment. It also reinstated a requirement for all incoming air passengers to take a test to prove they are virus-free.

Abu Dhabi has maintained a requirement for some sort of virus test, or proof of vaccination, for anyone crossing the border into the emirate from Dubai since June.

The UAE has rolled out one of the world’s fastest vaccination campaigns.

Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Christina Fincher