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Covid-19: UAE firms push vaccinated staff to get booster shots

Waheed Abbas /Dubai
waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com Filed on August 27, 2021
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Public and private firms adopt stricter measures to tackle the pandemic


Taking a cue from the government’s initiative to rein in the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UAE, the private sector is also taking all the measures to ensure the safety of employees and clientele.

Though it is not mandatory to take the Covid-19 vaccine in the UAE, public and private sector employees are left with no choice but to take the jab as companies are leaving no stone unturned to ensure the safety of the society against the pandemic. As most of the people in the UAE have already received both the jabs, many companies are now pushing for booster shots for their employees.

Starting Sunday, federal government employees who are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will have to take a PCR test every two days. Earlier, unvaccinated federal government staff were required to take the PCR tests every seven days. From September 5, Abu Dhabi government entities and companies will also return to 100 per cent capacity.

As Khaleej Times reported earlier, public and some private sector companies amended their workplace visitor policy to restrict their premises to vaccinated visitors to protect their employees. Some others have implemented safety precautions such as thermal checks, PCR negative test reports, safe distancing policies etc. for visitors.

According to Mayank Patel, country head, Adecco Middle East, encouraging employees to take Covid-19 vaccination, by-weekly office sanitisations, weekly PCR tests, wearing medical masks and mandatory social distancing are the norms now to tackle the pandemic.

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“Firms are also looking into setting up a support system for employees’ mental health and well-being to adjust to new realities and emotional challenges. Some firms are increasing the flexibility of working arrangements by opting for hybrid work culture. Employees are deployed on 70 per cent capacity and rotational shifts. This works well with companies having larger capacities of the workforce as it helps to keep a safe working space and builds a culture of trust, autonomy and responsibility,” said Patel.

He pointed out that some firms have set up a vaccination certificate submission request policy at the reception area for external visitors.

“For goods and supplies arriving at office premises, many firms are now restricting access for the delivery and have a designated area outside their premises for dropping packages,” Patel said, adding that for the retail and hospitality industries, constant communication is made on how many people will be allowed at premises.

Mohamed Awadalla, CEO of Time Hotels, said they’re actively implementing safety and sanitisation protocols throughout the rooms, restaurants, pools and public areas.

“Wearing masks, adhering to social distancing guidelines and having sanitation stations in public areas are strictly implemented in all the properties. All hotel vehicles, reception areas, elevators, public restrooms and guestrooms are disinfected,” he said, adding that all the staff members are fully vaccinated and “we are also arranging a vaccination drive for booster shots”.

Other initiatives include contactless check-in, express checkouts and contactless dining for the guests. But if an employee is tested positive, hotels do contact tracing, minimise organising social activities and team gatherings and even adhere strictly to sanitisation protocols, added Awadalla.

Michel Noblet, executive chairman of Ateca Holding, said most of the employees have been vaccinated and the group has implemented a programme in line with World Health Organisation guidelines. It includes stringent cleanliness standards; regular deep cleaning of upholstery, carpets and all bedding; maintaining strict social distancing throughout the hotel and specifically in public areas. Guests are provided with sanitisers, wipes and masks as needed, their temperature is regularly checked; and frequency of cleaning and disinfection has been increased with particular attention to high touchpoints.

How companies are tackling Covid-19

> Starting booster shots for employees

> Asking visitors to submit vaccination certificates at reception

> Firms restricting access for delivery of goods outside their premises

> Operating rotational shifts

> Regular PCR tests for unvaccinated staff

> Companies restricting premises to vaccinated visitors only

> Wearing masks

> Thermal checks

> Maintaining safe distance

> Support system for employee mental health

> Hybrid working models

> Regular and strict sanitization of public places

> Contactless payments

> Sanitisers, wipes and masks to hotel visitors

Source: Adecco Middle East, Time Hotels, Ateca Holdings, KT Research

Waheed Abbas





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