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Abu Dhabi returns to partial lockdown against COVID-19 variants

Beginning Monday, movement will be restricted from midnight to 5 a.m. and public spaces will operate at limited capacity.

Abu Dhabi is reentering a partial lockdown beginning Monday to stave off a new wave of infection by the coronavirus variants, authorities said on Thursday. 

The United Arab Emirates' capital city will be under curfew from midnight to 5 a.m., during which public spaces will be sterilized and movement will be highly restricted.

Public transportation will be suspended during the curfew. Residents are required to stay indoors “unless it is absolutely necessary to go out” or to get food, medicine and other essential supplies, the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee said in an announcement. 

During regular hours, public spaces including parks, swimming pools, restaurants, gyms and cafes will operate at 50% capacity. Shopping malls will operate at 40% capacity and movie theaters at 30%. 

The committee said the new restrictions are "part of proactive efforts to prevent COVID-19 variants and to ensure continuous testing." It called on the public to continue preventive measures, including social distancing and wearing masks. 

The partial lockdown takes effect on Monday, which coincides with the beginning of the Eid al-Adha holiday marking the end of the hajj.

According to the Ministry of Health and Prevention, 68% of the UAE's population of some 9.2 million has been fully vaccinated, and 77.5% have received at least one dose. 

Abu Dhabi previously announced that beginning Aug. 20, only vaccinated adults will be permitted to enter some public places, including shopping centers, restaurants, cafes and gyms. The guidelines don’t apply to those with an approved vaccine exemption and children 15 and under. 

Despite having one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, the UAE is recording an average of 1,500 new cases per day. Since the start of the pandemic, the Gulf country has recorded 657,884 coronavirus cases and 1,892 deaths from the virus. 

On Tuesday, the UAE sent 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Tunisia, which is struggling to contain the virus. In June, the Emirates also sent a batch of vaccines to Yemen’s Socotra governorate, which is controlled by UAE-backed separatists.

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