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Combating coronavirus: Hundreds fined, warned as Dubai cycle patrols enforce Covid-19 rules

Hesham Salah/Dubai
Filed on June 16, 2020 | Last updated on June 16, 2020 at 06.25 am
Combating, coronavirus, Hundreds fined, warned, Dubai cycle patrols, enforce, Covid-19 rules

(Photos by Neeraj Murali/Khaleej Times)

All of them were spotted in the five areas where the bicycle patrols operate: La Mer, JBR, Jumeirah the Palm, Arabian Ranches and Al Khawaneej.

Almost 2,000 Covid-19 safety violations have so far been spotted by the Dubai Police's bicycle patrols since they started riding around five neighbourhoods every night, from 10pm until 2am.

Out of the total 1,993 violators caught since May 15, 547 were fined while the rest were let off with a warning, said Captain Ahmad Al Zarooni, head of the patrols department at Deira Police Station.

All of them were spotted in the five areas where the bicycle patrols operate: La Mer, JBR, Jumeirah the Palm, Arabian Ranches and Al Khawaneej.

From roaming around during national sterilisation hours (11pm to 6am) to failing to wear face masks, forgetting to maintain a safe distance and other general offences - no violation slips past the team's sharp vision, even in the middle of the night.

However, these violation numbers, Al Zarooni said, are but a small portion of residents, compared to the majority who have been strictly adhering to measures laid out by the government to fight the spread of coronavirus.

"People are committed and they follow the rules because they know the actual size of the problem and how serious it is," he told Khaleej Times during their ride on Sunday night.

Big help from volunteers

Patrolling neighbourhoods in the wee hours to ensure compliance with Covid safety measures is no mean feat.

But, recently, the Dubai Police patrols have had a lot of help from volunteer cyclists who happily put their reflector vests on to spread awareness and catch violators.

Since the Ride with Dubai Police intiative was launched, the authorities have received a whopping 8,000 requests.

While some did not meet the criteria, around 300 volunteers of 32 nationalities made the cut for the first batch. Other qualified cyclists will be part of the next groups, said Capt Al Zarooni.

Volunteers' work starts with a briefing, a reminder of the tasks that they have to accomplish and some motivation on how important it is to be a patrol rider.

They also get a quick refresher on health guidelines, as well as fines and violations. For example, a person can be fined Dh3,000 for being out on the streets after 11pm without a movement permit.

Rounds start at 10pm or one hour before the sterilisation drive, Al Zarooni said. And cyclists spend this first hour advising people to head home as the sanitation period is about to begin.

Riders also carry a stock of face masks and gloves, in case they encounter people who lost their masks. After 11pm, if a volunteer sees a person on the street, he is obliged to report it to an officer, who will then fine the person for violating the law. Volunteers can only spread information and give warnings, but they cannot issue fines, Al Zarooni clarified.

As their patrol duty ends, the team returns to their meeting point, change their clothes, and head home - knowing that they have helped boost safety in the UAE. 




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