Covid rules eased in Dubai: Increased capacity at restaurants, events


Dubai - Event organisers, restaurant owners explain how new rules will help.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Mon 17 May 2021, 9:25 PM

Last updated: Tue 18 May 2021, 3:08 PM

Hotels, F&B outlets, event organisers and artists are over the moon after Dubai lifted restrictions on live entertainment, hotel and restaurant occupancy, and events.

Vaccinated people are now allowed to attend concerts.

The Dubai Media Office announced the revised regulations on Monday and said the changes which take effect immediately, were for a trial period of one month.

Khaleej Times reached out to heads of restaurants, event companies, and artists who said Dubai was showing a clear intent to enter a post-pandemic world.

Nicolas Budzynski, the global operations director at LPM Restaurant, said, “Today’s news shows quite strong actions by the government that they want to move forward. At the moment, we are operating at 60 per cent capacity with three-meter social distancing measures. Now, we will be able to increase to 75 per cent or 80 per cent with the opportunity to attract more customers for lunch and for dinner, meaning an instant increase in revenue. I think the fact that ATM is taking place is also great. The Dubai government is definitely sending a positive message.”

Rohith Muralya, the director of concept cuisine at SFC Group, said, “The new regulations are a positive sign that the UAE government’s proactive approach in combating Covid is effective, and is a huge boost to restore customer confidence in getting us back to normalcy.

He added, “We expect dining sales — which have been severely impacted since March 2020 — to start showing signs of positive recovery.”

Muralya said the group, whose staff have all been vaccinated, have been offering dine-in discounts to vaccinated customers.

‘New decision is weather-appropriate

Panchali Mahendra, managing director of Atelier House Hospitality, said, “The initiative to allow 70 per cent capacity has come in at a very fitting time with temperatures soaring, considering there will be reduced outside seating. Therefore, being able to maximize the inside seating helps us to accommodate our customers with the additional indoor footfall.”

She added, “We have been urging all our staff to be vaccinated and to take proper precautions in order to provide peace of mind and safety to all our guests.”

‘Hope people continue to be careful’

Budzynski said lifting of restrictions, does not mean one must throw caution to the winds. “Now that entertainment is allowed again, I really hope that operators will abide by the rules and make sure that no risk is taken. I expect the government to be strong with corrective action against operators not following the rules. We had a really bad surprise in November, December and January, and we know the outcome - four months of strong restrictions.”

Hricha Saraf, a partner at Bol Gappa, said, “This new regulation is an indicator of positive progress during these tough times. With the relaxed rules we will be able to entertain more guests and more guests means more revenue.”

Saraf stated, “With regards to ensuring customers are vaccinated or not, we are still figuring out a strategy as we would not like to ask our guest directly; however we will find ways to encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”

‘Events sector gets a much-needed boost’

On the events front, musicians, performers and heads of event companies said they are relieved with the Dubai government’s announcement. The sector has been suffering since March 2020 as little to no entertainment events have taken place in the UAE due to restrictions put in place early last year.

Adam Rahman, a Dubai-based DJ, promoter, label co-owner and festival coordinator, said, “It’s has been a tough year-and-a-half for the events industry. The government is enforcing the vaccination policy, which to be honest, a lot of us knew, was bound to happen soon, especially with the Expo 2020 coming closer.”

He added, “As far as Dubai is concerned, I think things will slowly start opening again, but it is again up to the promoters and artists to maintain the rules so that the city can slowly get back and try and recover their lost year in revenues.”

Nitesh Mangahnani of Ace Ventures Events said, “The plans we’ve been making for the past one year will finally see the light of day. It is a blessing for all kind of events – weddings, product launches, store launches, and all kind of entertainment events.” Nitesh’s company hosts the annual Aks Colour Carnival every March, which hasn’t been taking place since 2020. He added, “Though there were a few events which took place last year, they were on a very small scale and were subject to last-minute cancellations, especially weddings.”

Nitesh said Dubai residents are starved for large-scale entertainment events right now, as not much has taken place since last year. He stated, “There are so many things in the pipeline right now, we would start with a small brunch in the coming days and see how things go from there.”

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