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Coronavirus Pandemic

Elderly, kids relieved as Dubai allows them back in public places

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on June 18, 2020 | Last updated on June 18, 2020 at 07.30 pm
Dubai marina mall, coronavirus, covid-19, elderly, children
Families with children at the Dubai Marina Mall.

(Neeraj Murali/Khaleej Times)

The UAE had banned the entry of children under 12 and seniors above 60 to malls, retail shops and supermarkets on May 5.

The latest announcement by the Dubai government to lift the ban on the entry of elderly citizens above the age of 60 and children under the age of 12 to malls, swimming pools, beaches and public places has given families yet another reason to celebrate as they see their city return to normalcy after several months.

Senior citizen Naseem Durrani, 76, who has been a Dubai resident since 2012, was ecstatic on hearing the news. Durrani, who lives in The Greens community with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren, said: "As soon as the decision came of lifting the restriction on the movement of elderly and children, my grandchildren - both under 12 - began to celebrate and plan about visiting their favourite destinations that they will now visit. My friends also began calling and my phone was inundated with WhatsApp messages from my friends - all senior citizens - planning out the next meeting. This news sort of brought my whole household to life but we will wait for few more days and take all precautionary measure before going out for a picnic with family."

Durrani is also the founder of the Gold Age Group, a senior citizen community in The Greens. "We are about 100 senior citizens in this locality and in order to beat our loneliness and boredom we would meet at times in small groups at a small hall provided to us by Emaar or tour our kitchen garden given to us by the community. But we had stopped meeting when the pandemic struck. Today after over two months, we have issued orders to sanitise the whole place and are getting posters of precautions put up for all members. We are looking forward to reunite with our group members soon back in our meeting place and resume our walks outdoors while taking all the precautions such as wearing gloves, keeping distance etc."

Pleased with the decision, South African nationals Lorey and Ian Harfield, parents of two boys under the age of 12, said they felt relieved and happy at the ease of restrictions, but would play safe for some more time till things improve. " At the moment we are still very careful about the places we visit and we will continue to stay away from places that are too busy, especially indoor spaces. So far my boys have been content to be outdoors for entertainment but they are really looking forward to going to the cinema again and meeting up with their friends over the summer. We are still being very cautious though, so I am not sure when we will go for our first outing to the mall or an indoor play area, but it will certainly be a big treat for us all when we do go."

Heaving a sigh of relief, Dubai resident Lubna Khan, who has an elderly mother in law and two children under the age of 12 at home, said her mother in law and daughters have not stepped out for almost three months now.

"My mother in law is someone who loves going out but since the start of this pandemic, she has been so petrified about this virus that she has not stepped out. Also my kids were very fond of cycling and going for their karate classes and would even accompany me for grocery shopping but we stopped all outings for them for the last three months. So to start with we are taking them and my mother-in-law out just for a drive today, and my kids are excited to eat their happy meals, which we will get for them from a drive thru. Later this weekend we plan to go to an open park for a picnic."

The UAE had banned the entry of children under the age of 12 and seniors above the age of 60 to malls, retail shops and supermarkets on May 5, 2020 as part of the government's efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The elderly are among the high-risk groups of the population who are susceptible to coronavirus infection, along with patients of chronic diseases and young children, due to their weaker immune systems.

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