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Dubai orders capacity reductions, closes bars as virus cases soar

The UAE's largest city remained mostly open as normal until a recent outbreak.

Dubai has instituted several capacity restrictions and closed bars as coronavirus cases continue to climb in the United Arab Emirates.

Starting on Feb. 2, entertainment centers such as movie theaters and sports venues must reduce capacity by 50%. Hotels, malls, pools and private beaches must also operate at 70% capacity. Restaurants and cafes need to close by 1:00 a.m., among other restrictions, the Dubai Media Office said in a notice.

The measures will be in place until Feb. 28. The city also ordered all bars to close entirely, The Associated Press reported.

Dubai had one of the strictest lockdowns in the world at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last spring, the city began easing restrictions and allowed tourists to return in July.

The UAE as a whole is now experiencing historic highs in new virus cases. The country registered 2,730 new infections on Monday, according to the Emirati Ministry of Health and Prevention. There have been around 3,000 or more new cases daily for about two weeks. The UAE has a population of nearly 10 million.

The city was largely open with social distancing and mask-wearing requirements in place until recently. Last week, Dubai authorities suspended live entertainment events. The city has yet to opt for a new lockdown, but February’s restrictions are a step in that direction.