With a return to max capacity scheduled for mid-February…

The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA) for the UAE has today confirmed that the country will begin a “gradual lifting” of restrictions on “all activities and events in the UAE” across “various economic, tourism and entertainment facilities, as well as in shopping centres and modes of transportation”. Great news for taxis too then.

This return to maximum capacity is expected to arrive by mid-February.

Though it clarified “The vaccine is not a substitute for adhering to relevant precautionary measures, such as wearing face masks, respecting social distancing and sanitising, among other protocols.”

So it doesn’t look like this phase of de-escalation will include the withdrawal of the public place mask mandate.

The NCEMA also stated that it would be leaving the capacity setting responsibilities to the individual emirates and their own emergency, crisis and disaster committees.

The NCEMA pointed out that our nation exemplifies the balanced approach to dealing with the pandemic “The UAE is a leading model of flexibly and professionally addressing the crisis, due to the close cooperation between national authorities and concerned sectors

Explaining the route to this decision they said “The remarkable commitment of community members and their effective contributions to the implementation of precautionary and preventive measures helped decrease the number of cases recorded, with a clear decrease in the admission rate of patients with Covid-19 in hospitals“.

Other measures mentioned in the communication

Social distancing

We’ll also see an easing of the social distancing rules, starting in mosques and places of worship where a new safe-space margin of just one metre will be in place.

Vaccines for kids

The NCEMA also reminded residents that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved for children aged five and over. Administered in two doses, spaced 21 days apart (with no booster requriement). The kids’ version of the vaccine contains the same active components, just at a lower concentration.

Changing times

These developments mark a major attitude shift in the way the UAE intends to deal with the pandemic, and whilst the authorities will be keeping a close eye on the relevant numbers, barring any variant or socially irresponsible behaviour — it’s a momentum that should continue with further easing likely in the not too distant future.

Images: Getty