May 18, 2020 / 8:50 PM / 13 days ago

UAE to expand nightly coronavirus curfew, allow more residents to return

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates will extend a nightly curfew by two hours from this week after reporting an increase in daily cases of the coronavirus, an official said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: People walk outside Dubai mall after the UAE government eased a curfew and allowed stores to open, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates May 3, 2020. REUTERS/Abdel Hadi Ramahi

Separately, the country, which had suspended entry of non-Emirati residents on March 19, said it would next month start receiving those with valid residencies stranded abroad whose families are in the UAE, state media reported.

The nationwide curfew, which currently runs from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., would start at 8 p.m. on Wednesday until further notice, Saif Al Dhaheri, spokesman for the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, told a news conference.

The UAE on Monday reported 832 infections and four deaths from the virus to take its count to 24,190 with 224 deaths.

The country halted regular passenger flights and closed most public venues to combat the disease but like other Gulf Arab states saw the virus spread among low-income migrant workers living in overcrowded quarters, leading to an increase in testing.

Authorities have arranged repatriation flights for citizens and a limited number of residents and to evacuate foreigners.

The state news agency said residents with relatives in the UAE could start returning as of June 1 to reunite with family.

Some emirates, including business and tourism hub Dubai, allowed malls to reopen at limited capacity during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that began on April 24. Dubai has also allowed dine-in restaurants and cafes to resume business at 30% capacity and public parks to reopen with restrictions.

Dhaheri urged those celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of Ramadan to avoid family gatherings. He said malls could operate from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. during Eid with shoppers allowed to be there for a maximum of two hours.

Another official detailed an updated list of penalties for violation of containment measures, including a fine of 50,000 dirhams ($13,000) for not heeding quarantine orders and 3,000 dirhams for not wearing a face mask or practicing physical distancing in public, or breaking curfew.

The official said the public prosecutor would impose penalties of up to six months in prison or a fine of no less than 100,000 dirhams for repeat offenders.

Reporting by Ghaida Ghantous; Editing by Giles Elgood and Lisa Shumaker

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