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Dubai relaxes its coronavirus lockdown for Ramadan

Dubai will relax its strict coronavirus lockdown to allow movement without permission for much of the day during the Muslim holy month.
A man wearing a protective face mask walks through the deserted Barajeel Souq, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in old Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 31, 2020. REUTERS/Christopher Pike - RC25VF9HL1I6

Dubai is relaxing its strict coronavirus lockdown for Ramadan, joining other parts of the region in removing some restrictions for the Islamic holy month.

The Dubai government, which covers the city and the entire emirate of the same name in the United Arab Emirates, made the announcement today, saying it was the result of successful mitigation efforts leading up to Ramadan.

“The decision came after careful evaluation of the successful preventative measures over the past three weeks,” the announcement read.

Dubai residents will now be able to leave their homes without permission from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. Use of public transportation and family visits will be allowed. Businesses will be allowed to reopen, but they can only fill their locations with people up to 30% of capacity. Shopping centers and malls will only be allowed to open from noon until 10 p.m. The ban on movie theaters, prayer rooms and dressing rooms will continue, however, according to the announcement.

Dubai had one of the strictest lockdowns in the Middle East. There was a round-the-clock ban on nonessential movement, with people needing to obtain permission to leave their homes, starting in March. Only essential locations such as supermarkets remained open. The lockdown and accompanying flight restrictions stranded many foreigners in the country, including 20,000 Pakistanis.

Ramadan usually coincides with many social events in Muslim societies. Observers fast during the day and then eat together at night for “iftar” —“breaking the fast” — dinners.

But the order said that Ramadan councils, where Muslims gather in large rooms for worship or leisure during the month, will be prohibited.

Dubai joins other parts of the Middle East that have relaxed coronavirus restrictions for the holy month. Iraq allowed shops and factories to reopen at certain hours. Jordan also ended the lockdown in the southern city of Aqaba.