Whether it’s midday or midnight, now’s the time to shop responsibly…

While malls and restaurants close across the country, food retail outlets, supermarkets, grocery stores, co-ops and pharmacies in the UAE can now operate 24 hours a day.

The announcement was made by the Ministry of Health and Prevention and the National Emergency and Crisis and Disasters Management Authority last night.

This development is designed to ease overcrowding in the nation’s supermarkets, as social distancing measures are put in place to stem the spread of coronavirus.


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This is great news if you need to stock up on fresh food, pantry staples and medicines, but the extended trading hours do come with some restrictions.

In keeping with the UAE’s social distancing measures, stores cannot exceed 30 per cent of their total occupancy. This is to ensure there is a physical distance of at least two metres between customers.

All retail outlets in the UAE must also have clear markers and signage in high-traffic areas, such as the queues in front of the till, showing exactly how much distance to keep.

This announcement follows news that all shopping centres, malls and open markets in the UAE must close for the next two weeks. Hypermarkets, grocery stores and pharmacies located within these centres are exempted from this rule.

Local authorities continue to stress the importance of staying at home. UAE residents are urged to stay indoors, and to only venture out for food, medicine and work as required.

And no matter what time of day it is, if you do need to shop at the supermarket, please do so responsibly – there’s no need to hoard toilet paper or pasta here. Panic buying only increases stress levels for yourself and, most importantly, those in the community who cannot afford to stockpile vast quantities.