It has been nearly two and half years since masks have been made mandatory to curb the spread of Covid-19. With the new mask rules announced by the authorities on Monday, residents express their pleasure at being able to move around freely in public places without having to cover their faces – just as they did in pre-covid times.
The number of daily infections in the country continues to decline with nearly no fatality for months, and the eased Covid-19 safety rules will come into effect from Wednesday, September 28.
A few residents visit malls and supermarkets on a regular basis for work or leisure. “This news is pleasing to my ears, as I have to visit supermarkets and malls daily for work,” said Sheila Marie, outdoor sales executive, FMCG distribution company (Al Seer Group).
“It will be refreshing and easy to breathe. I wait to complete my tasks and get out for fresh air. It will be so easy to identify [people] from now on,” added Marie.
Malls were closed in March 2020 and reopened a month later with stringent precautionary measures in place to curb the spread of the virus. Store capacity would be increased or decreased depending on the spread of the virus, with each emirate given the option to adjust the maximum capacity and tighten or ease the precautionary measures as they saw fit.
“Wearing a mask outdoors had become a norm, irrespective of destination. Obviously, malls are a must-visit at least a week or fortnight for [a] resident of UAE. It is a relief to go out without a mask,” said Tamara Syed, digital marketing head of Airways Aviation.
Syed praised authorities for the gradual manner in which they eased mask rules step by step. “Last year, at the same time, authorities eased mask rules for exercising in public places, swimming pools, and strolling on the beach,” she added.
Students also expressed a sigh of relief after learning about the ease in mask rules. Omar Akrami, a student in the 11th grade at Our Own High School, said: “We had not heard about masks [before Covid], and was something that I had seen only doctors wear. But for the last few months, it was part of our school uniform.
Finally, we will be able to relive the moment when I was studying in 9th grade,” said Akrami.
Akrami commutes to school by the metro, and his younger brother always reminds him to wear a mask before leaving the house. “It is my younger brother’s first year in school, and he is in [the] state of mind that a mask is part of the school uniform.”
Ilisa Beth Seno, business development administrator in Spiro-GES, believes that one can now look presentable at the office and client meetings. “Masks were made mandatory as a part of precautionary measures against Covid-19", she said.
"Now that cases are decreasing day by day, authorities have taken a good decision based on the interest of its residents."
“At times, I have found that masks come in the way [of looking] presentable, and now after easing the restrictions, we can expect the working atmosphere at the office to be like it was pre-Covid,” added Seno.
Masks still remain mandatory inside medical facilities, mosques, and on public transportation. All food service providers, Covid-19 patients, and suspected cases must wear masks.
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