Covid-19: Residents cope with Abu Dhabi movement restrictions

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi Filed on August 6, 2021
KT file photo

The National Sterilisation Programme implemented in the capital last month has changed people's night routines.

The National Sterilisation Programme implemented in Abu Dhabi last month to control the spread of Covid-19 has changed people's night activities and working routine as residents have to adhere to the movement restrictions.

The new rule is part of the sweeping measures introduced by the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee on July 19, as the government continues to fight the pandemic. Other measures include testing and entry rules and reduced capacity at malls, cinemas and other public spaces.

Sterilisation takes place daily between midnight and 5am. During these hours, the movement of traffic and residents has been restricted and transportation services suspended.

Motorists driving to Abu Dhabi from other Emirates were also advised to factor in the ongoing movement restrictions in place past midnight before planning their journeys.

Radars on Abu Dhabi roads are activated after midnight to detect residents who step out of their homes during the sterilisation programme. The Abu Dhabi Police said the radars are used to impose fines on "those liable".

Police said anyone violating movement restrictions during the National Sterilisation Programme will be liable to pay a fine of Dh3,000.

Residents who need to leave their homes for essential reasons or to buy food or medicine during these hours need to procure a movement permit. They can apply for one at the Abu Dhabi Police website.

Changes in working schedules

Since the new rules came into effect, shopping malls, supermarkets, restaurants and other businesses in Abu Dhabi are closing hours before midnight to enable residents to reach home early due to the movement restrictions.

Ugandan expat Sinani Baguma, working for a restaurant at Yas Mall, says his working schedule has changed due to the sterilisation measures.

"I used to work the closing shift from 4pm till midnight or 1am during the weekends. But the shift was removed as the restaurant closes at 9pm due to the movement restrictions," said Baguma, adding that he has now switched to the afternoon shift, which ends at 10pm.

Bhupinder Singh, General Manager and CFO of Dalma Mall, told Khaleej Times that the closing time for his shopping mall had changed from 12am to 10pm due to the new measures. As a result, the management had to ensure that shoppers leave the mall early to reach home before the programme begins at midnight, he said.

Businessman Mohammed Shaheed, who owns a furniture shop in Musaffah industrial area, says he closes his shop at 9pm so he and his workers can reach home early.

"We used to close it at 11pm. But now we are closing two hours earlier due to the movement restrictions that are in place from midnight. We don't want to get into problems with the authorities," he said.

Shafik Ahmed, a Pakistani supervisor for a firm producing construction panels says although their work was not affected by the sterilisation programme, they had to make sure that all night shift workers are on duty by midnight, and no one leaves before 5am.

"We used to transport workers coming and going for duty at any time throughout the night. But the company had stopped the movement of workers during the sterilisation programme period from 12am to 5am," said Ahmed.

How to apply for a movement permit

>> A movement permit can be applied for and obtained via or the Abu Dhabi Police app (available on both Apple and Google Play.)

>> No documents are required. Applicants only need to enter their name, mobile number and vehicle licence plate number.

>> Applicants must also mention the specific reason for which they require the permit.

>> Approval will be granted immediately, unless applicants select 'other reasons', which will then need to be assessed.

How the National Sterilisation Programme is carried out

The National Sterilisation Programme is carried out by the Department of Municipalities and Transport in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Waste Management Center (Tadweer). The disinfection drive targets streets, bus stations, shopping centres, markets, public parks and other public places.

Tadweer had last year highlighted the intensive disinfection drive it carried out during and after the national sanitisation programme in Abu Dhabi since the start of the pandemic.

The centre said it deployed a 972-strong task force of disinfection specialists, engineers, supervisors, technicians, cleaners and administrative staff. The team worked for 10 hours a day over 227 days (till November 8). They completed a total of 1.8 million manhours and cleaned and sanitised 229 areas and neighbourhoods in the capital. The centre noted that over 250 million litres of water and two million litres of disinfectants were used to deliver "significantly positive results" throughout the sanitisation drive.


Ismail Sebugwaawo

A professional journalist originating from Kampala, Uganda, Ismail is a happy father with strong attachment to family and great values for humanity. He has practiced journalism in UAE for the past 13 years, covering the country's parliament (FNC) and crimes, including Abu Dhabi Police, public prosecution and courts. He also reports about important issues in education, public health and the environment, with a keen interest in human interest stories. When out of reporting duties, he serves the Ugandan community in Abu Dhabi as he wants to see his countrymen happy. Exercising and reading are part of his free time.

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