COVID-19 measures in Dubai and Abu Dhabi

New measures to curb the “second wave” of COVID-19 cases have been introduced by the Dubai Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management (the Dubai Committee) and the Abu Dhabi Emergency Crisis and Disasters Committee for COVID-19 Pandemic (the Abu Dhabi Committee).


On 1 February, the Dubai Committee announced that, effective the following day and for the duration of the month of February, all pubs and bars in Dubai must close, while restaurants and cafes must close by 1:00 am. Shopping malls, hotels, private beaches in hotels and swimming pools may operate at 70% capacity. Theatres, other indoor venues and sports venues must operate at a maximum capacity of 50%. Entertainment activities in restaurants and cafes are no longer permitted.


The Dubai Committee has urged the public to report violations by calling the Dubai Police or by using the Dubai Police App. There have been reports of recent prosecutions for violations, including the imposition of fines.


On 7 February, the Abu Dhabi Committee announced that, effective the same day and until further notice, parties and gatherings are prohibited and theatres shall be closed. No more than 10 persons may attend a marriage ceremony or a family gathering, and no more than 20 may attend a funeral or mourning service.


Malls are limited to 40% capacity, and gyms, private beaches and swimming pools are limited to 50% capacity. Restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, public beaches and parks may operate at 60% capacity. Taxis and buses may operate at 45% and 75% capacity, respectively.


The Abu Dhabi Committee also announced new rules on entry into the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, effective 1 February. Any individual entering Abu Dhabi from another Emirate must enter Abu Dhabi within 24 hours of taking the DPI (Diffractive Phase Interferometry) test instead of 48 hours. The same DPI test result cannot be used for two consecutive entries into Abu Dhabi. Those who entered Abu Dhabi on the basis of a DPI test and who plan to continue their stay for more than 48 hours must take a PCR test on 3rd day following entry and another PCR test on the 7th day.


The validity of the PCR test result to enter Abu Dhabi continues to be 48 hours; however, another PCR test must be performed on the 4th day and on the 8th day following entry. The day of entry into Abu Dhabi is considered as day 1. These requirements are not applicable to volunteers in clinical trials or to persons who have been vaccinated.


Moreover, all employers in Abu Dhabi have been directed to require their personnel who have not been vaccinated to undergo a PCR test at least once a week.


In addition, Abu Dhabi has updated the “green list” of countries for travelers arriving by air. The new “green list” as of 7 February 2021 is:


• Australia

• Bhutan

• Brunei

• China

• Greenland

• Hong Kong

• Iceland

• Mauritius

• Mongolia

• New Zealand

• Saudi Arabia

• Singapore


Individuals travelling from these countries are not required to quarantine upon arrival; however, they must perform a PCR test on arrival and repeat another PCR test on day 6 following arrival. Persons arriving from other countries as must quarantine for 10 days following arrival and must also take a PCR test on arrival and again on day 8 following arrival.


Finally, Ministerial Resolution 21 of 2021, promulgated by the Federal Minister of Health and Prevention and effective 7 February 2021, provides that PCR tests will be given free of cost at all Ministry centers. The provision applies to all UAE nationals and all persons holding UAE visas. ■



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Please note that new rules and developments are occurring in the UAE on a very frequent basis. These are subject to change without prior notice or formal/public announcement. 



COVID-19 and Commercial Leases in the UAE

The Covid-19 pandemic has swept the globe like a tsunami and it continues to impact countries and their economies worldwide. The UAE is no exception. Businesses have come under increased cost pressure as revenues decline. Such cost pressure primarily involves real estate leasing costs.


In this inBrief, we look at the impact Covid-19 has had on commercial leases.


Rent Deferment 


From a real estate perspective, the authorities in the UAE have introduced a series of initiatives to support commercial tenants in response to Covid-19.


During March and April, the Government of Dubai temporarily suspended all eviction judgements and cheque dishonour complaints/actions in the Emirate.


In Abu Dhabi, Administrative Resolution 92 of 2020 was passed which grants tenants in the restaurant, tourism and recreational sectors a refund of 20 per cent of the rent value collected during 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020.


The Dubai Free Zones Council announced a major relief package at the end of March for companies operating in the free zones of the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, the Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority, Jebel Ali Free Zone, the Dubai World Trade Centre, the Dubai International Financial Centre, the Dubai Development Authority, Dubai South, Meydan City Corporation and the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC). Measures included an up to six months’ rent postponement period and easy installment plans.


In the DMCC, tenants benefitted from a waiver of rent for two months for commercial tenants impacted by the Dubai Economy Directive requiring them to temporarily close; a three months’ suspension of rent for Flexi Desk and DMCC Business Centre tenant renewals or a monthly/quarterly instalment plan with no discount; and a waiver of outdoor area rents for JLT retail tenants where DMCC is the building owner/landlord.


From April to June, retail tenants in DIFC’s Gate Avenue, Gate Village and Gate District were not required to pay basic rent.  The DIFC also allowed deferred rental payments with respect to all properties owned by DIFC Investments for a period of up to six months.


Sharjah Asset Management, the investment arm of the Sharjah Government, waived commercial rents for all tenants of Haraj and Jubil markets for three months from March.


Suspension / Termination by Force Majeure 


Apart from government initiatives to support commercial tenants, a force majeure clause is often found in a lease and typically excuses one or both parties from performance of their obligations under the lease following the occurrence of a force majeure event. A force majeure event is generally defined as an event beyond a party’s control (i.e. an act of god). Often the clause will provide that, if the force majeure event continues for a period of time, then either party shall have the right to terminate the lease.


If a lease does contain such a force majeure clause and it defines a “pandemic” or “epidemic” as an event of force majeure, then the tenant is likely to be protected contractually either by a suspension of the tenant’s obligation to pay the rent or a right to terminate.




However, if the lease does not contain such a force majeure provision, then the tenant will have to rely on its rights under UAE law.


Under the UAE Civil Code, a tenant may apply to the court to terminate a lease in circumstances of “force majeure” or an “exceptional event”.


UAE law requires performance of the lease to be impossible in a force majeure event and courts require force majeure to be unforeseeable. Both of these are arguable and may be hard to satisfy in order to fall under the protection of force majeure under Article 273 of the Civil Code.


However, if the event does not qualify as a force majeure event under UAE law, then it can be argued that it is ‘an exceptional event’ (Article 249 & 794 of the Civil Code). The law requires an exceptional event to be unforeseeable and that performance of the contractual obligations to be so onerous so as to threaten grave loss.   This must be proven factually.


There have been three high profile court cases reported in the media recently where tenants were permitted to terminate their leases on the basis of the above Articles of the Civil Code and using the Covid-19 pandemic as a reason. Nevertheless, the application of these Articles is still subject to the discretion  of  the  judge  and the facts and the law must be properly presented and argued.





The Covid-19 pandemic will lead to continued uncertainty in the real estate market in the UAE and worldwide.


We expect that some businesses will continue to seek to negotiate or terminate their commercial leases during this pandemic on the basis of “force majeure” or “exceptional event”. ■

COVID-19: Entry into the Emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi

On 12 September 2020, the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) reported 1007 new COVID-19 cases in the UAE. With the number of cases rising both within the UAE and in most other countries, the UAE government has reiterated the importance of adhering to preventive guidelines and has further placed safeguards, particularly in Abu Dhabi, to ensure that those traveling to the UAE are confined to prevent the transmission of the virus.


Currently, individuals traveling to Abu Dhabi from outside the UAE must first update the details of their visas on the website of Federal Authority of Identity and Citizenship (ICA) and confirm their entry to the UAE. (The same is true of passengers arriving in the UAE via airports other than those in Dubai). An instant response message from the ICA with a “green status” indicates that the entry has been confirmed by the ICA. A message with a “red status” indicates that the request to enter the UAE has been rejected and the applicant must wait for a few days to re-apply. Travelers who are not UAE nationals or holders of UAE residence visas are not permitted to enter. Following receipt of the “green status” message, the traveler can proceed to book a flight and comply with any additional requirements of the airline. Most important, a negative COVID-19 PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test result must be provided at the airport and must not have been taken more than 96 hours prior to departure. The test result must be printed and be either in English or Arabic. The test must be conducted at a UAE government approved testing center.


Upon arrival at Abu Dhabi airport, travelers will be tested again for COVID-19. Unlike in Dubai, passengers arriving from certain jurisdictions (no published list is as yet available) are made subject to a mandatory institutional quarantine of 14 days (irrespective of the test results, whether positive or negative) at a government facility. The traveler is also mandated to wear a tracker provided by the health officials. After 12 days of the 14-day quarantine, travelers are required to re-test themselves and with the confirmation of a negative test result (usually received by message) they are permitted to return the tracker and formally end the quarantine. Additionally, upon entry, travelers are required to sign an undertaking at Abu Dhabi airport to comply with the rules and guidelines of the UAE authorities and also to install the AlHosn App to assist the authorities in contact tracing.


Last month, the Dubai government announced that travelers by air to Dubai are required to first obtain approval online from the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA). Travelers (those having a Dubai residence visa) must now apply for the approval via the new smart platform of GDRFA Dubai on and provide the details of their visas. Travelers must submit to the airline and the airport a printed negative COVID-19 PCR test result in English or Arabic which again must not have been taken more than 96 hours prior to departure. Upon arrival, travelers will be tested again at the Dubai airports. Post-arrival, a home-quarantine is mandatory in Dubai until the results of the PCR test are obtained, if negative. However, a traveler who tests positive must self-quarantine for 14 days from the time of arrival in Dubai. Similar to Abu Dhabi, a signed undertaking and a declaration to abide by the rules and install the DXB Smart App, a contact tracing app, must be submitted at the time of arrival at Dubai airports. Unlike Abu Dhabi, foreigners without UAE residence visas may enter the UAE via Dubai’s airports.


Within the UAE, those traveling into Abu Dhabi from any other Emirate must also provide a negative PCR test result or a negative DPI test (Diffractive Phase Interferometry) both conducted no earlier than 48 hours prior to their entry into Abu Dhabi. Individuals who will then stay in Abu Dhabi for six consecutive days or more must also take a PCR test on the sixth day of each visit to the Emirate.


The UAE government has further reiterated that failing to comply with the rules and guidelines shall attract heavy fines and can also lead to criminal prosecution if the offense is repeated. ■

Recent measures implemented in Abu Dhabi in response to COVID-19

On 30 May 2020, the Abu Dhabi Media Office posted through Twitter that the Department of Government Support has eased restrictions on some activities and issued a set of guidelines for working from and visiting government entities in Abu Dhabi.


The guidelines below come into effect from today, 1 June 2020, and are limited to individuals between the ages of 12 and 60. All individuals must follow preventive measures including social distancing (ensuring two-metre distance from other individuals), wearing face masks and adhering to the daily National Disinfection Programme timing in Abu Dhabi (from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. the following morning).


I.        Easing restrictions on some activities in Abu Dhabi


  • Capacity at malls and mall restaurants is increased to 40 percent.


  • Hotel beaches, museums and restaurants outside malls to reopen at 40 percent capacity.


  • Outdoor and singular sports activities including horseback riding, cycling, cricket, running, golf, tennis, and sailing will resume.


II.     Guidelines for working from and visiting government entities in Abu Dhabi


  • No more than 35 percent of office staff will be allowed to work in government offices.


  • Paperwork should be avoided.


  • Face masks and gloves are to be worn at all times.


  • Prayer rooms and shared areas are to remain closed.


  • Glass barriers must be installed to keep a distance between employees and customers.


  • Before leaving home, government employees in Abu Dhabi have been asked to take their temperature and avoid public transportation networks.


  • Once at work, their temperature will be taken again and a QR code scanned.


  • Employees who live with people who have tested positive for Covid-19, or who show symptoms, are exempt from having to return to offices, as are those who suffer from chronic underlying health conditions or who need to care for family members.


Restrictions on movement in and outside Abu Dhabi


Subsequently, on 31 May 2020, the Abu Dhabi Media Office posted restrictions announced by the Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management Committee on movement in and outside the Emirate.


Movement between regions within Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and Al Dhafrah) as well as in and out of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is banned for a period of one week starting tomorrow, 2 June 2020. The ban includes all residents including UAE nationals.


Exemptions from this movement restriction are available for employees of vital sectors, chronic disease patients visiting hospitals and the transportation of necessary goods.


Residents in each region are allowed to move within their region in line with the daily National Disinfection Programme timing in Abu Dhabi (from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. the following morning). ■


Cram Down Financings in the Era of Covid-19

We are in unprecedented times. The Covid-19 pandemic has swept the globe like a tsunami and it continues to wreak havoc on countries, people and economies. The effects of the pandemic are evident now. For example, the US unemployment rate is presently at 14.7%. In the peak of the financial crisis of 2008, the unemployment rate was 10%. This rate is predicted to rise to 25% at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic – equivalent to the unemployment rate of the US Depression of the 1930s!


Given the backdrop of the cataclysmic economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, it has also become increasingly harder to find willing investors for startup companies. Such a scenario will give rise to “cram down” financings. In such a cram down financing, only one or a few investors are willing to put any new money into a company. However, such money usually comes with a much lower valuation for the company (down round) and forced conversions from luxurious preferred shares to plain vanilla common shares which generally punish non-participating shareholders who end up ‘crammed down’ to a small ownership stake of the company in common shares.


Generally, such a cram down financing involves a few controlling venture capital investors increasing their control and ownership stake at the expense of the crammed down remaining investors who did not participate in the financing. In such circumstances, courts have held that controlling venture capital investors must satisfy the “entire fairness test” by proving that the transaction was fair to the minority crammed down shareholders. This means that a controlling venture capital shareholder may have a fiduciary duty to minority shareholders.


In such circumstances, controlling venture capital investors should insist on a broadly worded indemnity from the company to protect them against potential claims by the minority shareholders based on the entire fairness test and breaches of fiduciary duty.


The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant shortage of venture capital financing for companies. Such shortage can result in unique investment opportunities for those venture capital investors who are willing to invest in such uncertain times. However, such opportunities can result in potential liabilities that may be so significant as to wholly undermine such investment unless specific investor protections are negotiated. ■

Post Eid al Fitr Reopening Guidelines and Easing of Movement Restrictions

On 26 May 2020, Dubai Economy published the “Post Eid al Fitr” reopening Guidelines which took effect from Wednesday 27 May 2020 and include updates to the protocols for the wholesale and retail trade including salons and barbershops as well as valet parking. The Guidelines also provide tailored reopening protocols for cinemas, kids salons, auction houses, outsourced government service centres, and various entertainment sectors.


The Guidelines include the following:


  • Offices in Dubai will be allowed to reopen with 50 percent of their headcount capacity.


  • Salons and barbershops will be allowed to reopen with 50 percent of their staff and customer capacity.


  • Malls and retails outlets will be allowed to increase their staffing and customer occupancy levels from the current 30 percent to 70 percent and they will be allowed to remain open from 6:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.


  • The Dubai Metro will operate from 7:00 a.m. until midnight from Sunday to Thursday and from 10:00 a.m. until midnight on Fridays.


  • Intracity buses will now operate from 6:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m., with essential trips (to hospitals only) permitted on these buses between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.


  • Intercity buses will continue to be suspended until further notice.


All individuals must follow preventive measures including social distancing (ensuring two-metre distance from other individuals) and wearing face masks.


On 27 May 2020 the Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council announced that 50 percent of all Dubai government employees will resume working from their offices today, Sunday 31 May 2020, and the remaining will do so on 14 June 2020.


Return to work of private sector employees will be implemented in accordance with the reopening Guidelines as discussed above, with 100 percent private sector employees’ return to work pending further announcement.


The UAE also announced on Friday 29 May 2020 that starting from Saturday 30 May 2020 the daily National Disinfection Programme across the UAE except in Dubai will begin at 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. the following morning. In Dubai, timing of the sterilisation programme was changed on 27 May 2020 and runs from 11:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. the following morning. ■

Revised Measures in Response to COVID-19: Sterilisation and opening timings and an updated list of violations and fines



On 18 May 2020, the UAE government announced the following timings with effect from today, 20 May 2020:



  • the National Disinfection Programme will take place between 08:00pm (not 10:00pm) to 06:00am the following day.


  • working hours of butchers, mills and cafes will be from 06:00am to 08:00pm.


  • commercial centres and malls will be open from 09:00am to 07:00pm (with new opening hours to be announced after the upcoming Eid.) People over 60 years old and children below 12 years old will continue to be denied access to these premises.

Retail stores, cooperatives, groceries, supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open for 24 hours, seven days a week during the National Disinfection Programme.


List of Violations and Fines


On 18 May 2020, the Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Prosecution Department of the Public Prosecution announced an updated list of the violations and fines that were originally set out in Resolution 38 of 2020. The changes take effect from 18 May 2020.


The list below follows the numbering of Resolution 38 of 2020. Some violations and fines have remained the same, others have been revised, and new violations have been introduced. For ease of reference, the new changes and additions are in red.


The list of violations and fines under Resolution 38 of 2020 appeared in our previous InBrief dated 29 March 2020.



Violation Fine
  • Violating an order for mandatary hospitalisation.
AED 50,000
  • Failing to abide by home quarantine or re-testing instructions.
AED 50,000
  • Failing to abide by quarantine instructions at private quarantine facilities or re-testing instructions.
AED 50,000
2 bis*
  • Failing to install a smart application or carry an electronic tracking device for home quarantine cases.
  • Destroying, losing or disrupting the network of electronic tracking device for home quarantine cases.
AED 10,000

The offender will also bear the cost of the electronic device, if lost or damaged.

  • Hacking, destroying, deleting, damaging or changing the program of the smart application or electronic tracking device.
  • Illegally obtaining data or information in the smart application or electronic tracking device.
AED 20,000

The offender will also bear the cost of all damages.

  • Failing to notify the relevant contact centre, without an acceptable excuse, that the electronic tracking device is lost, damaged or malfunctioned within 24 hours of such event.
AED 10,000
  • Violating the closure or operating hours of an educational institution, movie theatre, gym, nightclub, commercial center, outdoor market, park, leisure centre, cafe, shopping mall, retail shops, gardens, beaches, public swimming pools, hotel swimming pools, and restaurant (the Facilities).
  • Receiving any visitors in any of the Facilities in violation of the instructions.
AED 50,000 for the owner of a shopping centre and closure of the facility for one month.

AED 5,000 for the owner of a retail shop outside a shopping centre.

  • Failing to install thermal cameras, or taking any other precautionary measures as required by the relevant authorities, at any of the Facilities.
AED 20,000
  • Failing to temporarily suspend sailing cruises.
  • Violating procedures or measures imposed by the relevant authorities when resuming the operations of sailing cruises.
AED 10,000
  • Violating prohibitions or restrictions on gatherings, meetings, private and public celebrations, and on gathering or being present at public locations, private farms, or agricultural estates.
AED 10,000 for whoever invites or organises the same, and AED 5,000 for participants.
  • Violating measures of the Ministry of Health & Prevention regarding those coming to the UAE from countries infected by any communicable diseases.
AED 5,000 (which was previously AED 2,000). 
  • Failing to take the appropriate health procedures regarding the regulation of markets, roads, and other public locations exempt from temporary closure.
  • Failing to implement an order for removal of any temporary structure or the disposal of goods, clothes, or other items are believed to have been contaminated or potentially contaminated with any disease agent and cannot be disinfected.
AED 3,000
  • (Applicable to accredited health laboratories) Failing to link the data of tested individuals to relevant authorities
AED 20,000
  • Failing to clean and sterilise equipment, devices, machines within establishments as per the instructions of the relevant authority.
AED 5,000
  • Violating instructions of the relevant authority relating to cleanliness and personal hygiene practices of workers within establishments or shared housing accommodations.
AED 1,000
  • Failing to use chemicals (for cleaning, sanitisation and disinfection purposes) or any other material as per the instructions of the relevant authority.
AED 1,000
  • Failing to preserve the health and safety and prevent spread of communicable diseases as per the decisions and instructions of the relevant authority.
AED 2,000
  • Failing to take precautionary measures for the crew of accommodation vessels.
AED 10,000
8 (This fine under Resolution 38 of 2020 is cancelled.)
  • Violating the provisions of the Implementing Regulations for the Law on the Prevention of Communicable Diseases as regards the burial or transport of the body of any person who dies from a communicable disease.
AED 5,000 (which was previously AED 3,000). 
  • Exceeding the maximum permitted number of passengers in a car by more than three persons. (This does not apply where members of the same family or second-degree relatives are in a car.)
AED 3,000 for the  driver (which was previously AED 1,000).
  • Using a vehicle to transport goods, objects or other items against its authorized purpose and in violation of health and safety regulations.
AED 5,000 and the vehicle will be impounded for a month.
  • Failing to wear medical or cloth facemasks in closed public places, shopping centres, public transportation, crowded public areas, high traffic areas, or private vehicle.
AED 3,000 (which was previously AED 10,000).


  • Failing to wear medical or cloth facemask at a company, workplace, housing accommodation.


AED 5,000 for the employer or owner of company, establishment or worker’s accommodation.

AED 500 for the employee.

  • Failing to observe the safe distance between individuals.
AED 3,000 (which was previously AED 10,000). 
  • Failing to take necessary measures to ensure social distancing and permitting overcrowding and assembling within establishments, cafes, restaurants, beaches, gyms, public swimming pools, hotel pools.
AED 5,000 for the owner of such facilities. 
  • Exercising, taking part in sports or recreational activities in open places or hotel beaches, walking or gathering in gardens or public places in violation of the preventative measures imposed by the relevant authority.
AED 3,000
  • Violating the maximum number of employees allowed within a facility, commercial establishment or workplace.
AED 3,000 for the owner of the company or establishment. 
  • Failing to take sterilisation procedures in means of public and private transport.
AED 5,000 for the manager of the company or establishment. 
  • Approaching or going to healthcare facilities in cases other than the prescribed ones.
AED 1,000
  • Refusing to undergo a medical test upon demand.
AED 5,000
  • Re-taking a laboratory test for Coronavirus at accredited health laboratories within two weeks without a valid reason
AED 1,000
  • Leaving home or travelling during the curfew times announced by the relevant authority for a reason other than to buy food and medicine and to attend to health emergencies.

(This is not applicable to employees within the vital sectors who are permitted to move during curfew times, which includes medical, technical and administrative personnel working within governmental and private health facilities.)

AED 3,000
  • Violating the ban on transferring workers between Emirates. (This is not applicable to workers of exempted categories.)
AED 10,000 for the owner of the company or establishment and driver of the private vehicle. 
(Applicable to workers within the exempted category)

  • Exceeding the maximum capacity imposed by the relevant authority (being half capacity of vehicles) when transporting workers between Emirates or within an Emirate.
  • Failing to wear masks, and social distance when boarding and disembarking from the vehicle.
AED 5,000 for the owner of the company or establishment

AED 500 for the employee or worker. 

  • Carrying on private lessons at home, or public or private places (with direct contact), whether for or without compensation.
AED 30,000 for the individual offering, organizing and mediating private lessons. 

AED 20,000 for the owner of the private place where the private lesson was held. 

  • Collecting, copying, broadcasting, disclosing, publicizing, transmitting or circulating health data or information of individuals that tested positive, are undergoing treatment or examination with the health authorities.


  • Cancelling, deleting, destroying, or altering any such data or information.


AED 20,000



  • Violating information security standards approved by government or private health facilities.
AED 5,000


Violators of Article 2 and 2 bis (marked with an asterisk (*) above) will be referred to the Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Prosecution Department of the Public Prosecution to be charged for a criminal offence under Article 40 of the Federal Decree Law 2 of 2011 on the Establishment of the National Emergency and Crisis Management Authority. The penalty of such offence is imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months, or a fine not exceeding AED 100,000, or both.


The Attorney General has the authority to order the publication of the pictures and name of violators in media sources as it deems necessary. ■


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DMCC Employment Guidelines during the COVID-19 Precautionary Measures Period

The DMCC Authority recently passed DMCC Guidelines 1 of 2020 (DMCC Guidelines) setting out what actions DMCC employers can take with respect to their employees during the COVID-19 Precautionary Measures Period.


DMCC entities can:


• Request employees to work remotely and implement means to monitor them (without infringing their privacy). Working remotely does not however apply to key employees working in Vital Industries. “Vital Industries” are the key industry sectors as announced by the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management from time to time, which are eligible for a work-related movement permit (now required for movement around Dubai between 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.), available from the Dubai Police website. The Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management was established under the leadership of the Commander of the Dubai Police pursuant to Dubai Decree 22 of 2006 and Dubai Rule 14 of 2006. For the Vital Industries, please see the list of Vital Sectors and Support Sectors in our InBrief dated 6 April 2020.


• Place employee(s) on paid leave without employee’s consent.


• Temporarily reduce employee’s basic salary for a defined period (which must be mutually agreed). In spite of this temporary reduction, the employee’s end of service gratuity will remain unaffected, and will continue to accrue according to the employee’s basic salary prior to the temporary reduction.


• Place employee(s) on unpaid leave for a period (which must be mutually agreed).


• Collect and share employee’s personal data with competent UAE authority (if requested) as reasonably required for the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees.


DMCC employers are discouraged from filing absconding reports against terminated employees who may be facing delays in cancelling their visas during the COVID-19 Precautionary Measures Period.


Where the DMCC Guidelines are silent, the DMCC entities shall remain subject to the UAE Labour Law. In contrast, the DMCC has not made DMCC entities subject to the requirements of Ministerial Resolution 279 of 2020 (on employment stability in the private sector) and Ministerial Resolution 281 of 2020 (on maintaining safe places of work), either in the DMCC Guidelines or on its website. Accordingly, the specific requirements imposed in those Resolutions would not apply to DMCC entities, unless the DMCC decides at a later date to make them applicable. For details of these Resolutions, please see our InBriefs dated 1 April 2020, 3 April 2020 and 6 April 2020 and our Legal Alert dated 6 April 2020.


As to accessing office premises of DMCC entities, the DMCC Authority has followed the decision of the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management dated 23 April 2020 whereby a maximum of 30% of the workforce of all organisations would be allowed to work from the office premises. For more details of this decision, please see our InBrief dated 26 April 2020. DMCC entities based in the DMCC Business Centre (i.e., those with flexi desks, serviced desks or serviced offices leased from DMCC Business Centre) (Business Centre Members), however, are additionally subject to the recently issued DMCC Business Centre Health & Safety Policy, which restrict them to having one employee present at the office unit at any one time (and such employee must not be 60 years and older, or pregnant, or have chronic diseases). Such employee must also undergo thermal scanning available in designated areas within the DMCC Business Centre facility. ■


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New Measures Implemented by the UAE Authorities in Response to COVID-19

Below is a summary of key new measures that have been implemented by various UAE authorities since 30 April 2020 and the time of this inBrief, 12:00 noon on Thursday, 7 May 2020.


I. Economic Relief Measures


A. Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA) announces business relief package


On 4 May 2020, the DHCA announced a business relief package for its free zone community consisting of waivers and discounts for directly-impacted segments, additional benefits for businesses operating in DHCA-owned properties, and waivers and discounts in regulatory fees for hospitals, clinics, education providers, research institutions, retail stores, hotels, F&B outlets, consultancies, and support services among businesses.


Relief measures include:


• for directly-impacted segments: 25 percent to 100 percent discount on commercial and clinical fees. This segment includes certain outpatient clinics, education providers, hospitality and support services, all of which have had to close or significantly reduce operations to comply with national precautionary and preventative measures, resulting in reduced revenues and customer footfall.


• for businesses operating in DHCA-owned properties: 25 percent to 50 percent discount on commercial and clinical fees. These businesses exclude pharmacies and supermarkets which have been following regular operations.


The reduced regulatory fees can be availed for a period of three months with the exception of certain fees related to commercial licenses and clinical operating permits, which can be availed until the end of 2020.


B. Abu Dhabi Customs launches a package of economic incentives


On 5 May 2020, the General Administration of Abu Dhabi Customs launched a package of economic incentives to support importers in Abu Dhabi and to mitigate the consequences of the current exceptional circumstances as a transit gateway for all vital sectors. The incentives include:


• Postponement of payment of customs duties of importers for 90 days, from the date of the customs statement.


• Accepting institutional guarantees instead of bank guarantees for customer accounts.


• Pre-clearance services prior to shipment arrival through the customs operations system, which results in saving time and costs on companies.


• Self-clearance services that allow companies to clear their shipments themselves without resorting to customs clearance under the controls Customs licences.


• Licensing bond warehouses with no fees.


• Extension of the transit period from three to five days for the purposes of arrival of goods to their destination.


• Cancellation of the insurance refund fee for the temporary entry insurance.


C. Dubai South economic stimulus package


On 3 May 2020, Dubai South Free Zone announced economic stimulus incentives to individuals and companies in its free zone consisting of:

• Flexible payment plans with easy instalment schemes.


• Waiver of penalties on late renewals and cancellations of contracts and licenses.


• A 20 percent reduction on licence fee renewals.


• Waiver of first year license fees for new clients in the aviation, logistics and e-commerce sectors and the Business Park.


• The opportunity to apply for a lease deferral request of up to six months for clients operating in the Business Park Free Zone.


• A reduction of up to 25 percent on the renewal fees for Dubai South Business Centre clients renewing their contracts between now and October 2020, as well as the flexibility to settle annual rental fees in up to four instalments.


• A reduction of up to 25 percent of rental fee for individuals and companies looking to establish a new business.


D. Ruler of Umm Al Quwain Emiri Decree on economic incentive package


On 30 April 2020, the Ruler of Umm Al Quwain issued Emiri Decree No. 2 of 2020 (Decree) regarding an economic incentive package to support businesses and individuals. The Decree became effective on the date of its issuance.


The Decree stipulates the following incentives:

• A discount of 50 percent on fees related to new business licences and commercial, industrial and professional licence renewals at the Department of Economic Development.


• Cancellation of fines for expired licences of commercial, industrial and professional companies and economic establishments in the Emirate.


• A 50 percent fee reduction on fees on activities related to Umm Al Quwain Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


In a related measure, Resolution No. 3 of 2020 exempts companies that halted their services due to the coronavirus crisis from fees and fines.


E. Fujairah waives licensing and tax fees for current year


On 30 April 2020, the Ruler of Fujairah issued Resolution No. 4 of 2020 regarding exemption from local licensing fees and taxes for the current year.


Businesses exempted from licensing fees include various professions in the market, the Friday Market, meat and poultry stores, tailors, cinemas, gaming centres and stores located in shopping malls, hotels, fitness centres, health clubs, wedding halls, and men’s and women’s salons.


Resorts, hotels, and hotel apartments shall be exempted from the prescribed local tax.


Exemption will be for the whole year starting from 1 January 2020 until 31 December 2020.


II. Labour-related Matters


Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) stated that employee wages must be safeguarded and paid on time.


In a statement issued on 30 April 2020, the MOHRE noted that employers must adhere to Ministerial Resolution No. 739 of 2016 concerning the protection of wages and must commit to ensuring employee wages are paid on time via the Wages Protection System. MOHRE affirmed that private-sector employers’ commitment to pay wages on time, as well as documenting early leave and the reduction in employee wages, whether temporary or permanent, would guarantee the rights of both parties in the business relationship. It emphasised that adherence by employers towards fulfilling their legal obligations to their employees, particularly with regards to remuneration, is of the utmost importance in ensuring the stability of the working relationship, employee productivity, and business continuity.


III. Precautionary Measures


A. New measures implemented by the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED)


On 1 May 2020, ADDED issued a circular to the managers and owners of shopping malls and centres, food retailers and pharmacies operating within Abu Dhabi to provide thermal inspection devices and cameras at the main entrances of their facilities.


This measure is in addition to shopping malls’ adherence to all guidelines and regulations that were set as conditions for their reopening. These guidelines include keeping the capacity of shoppers inside a mall up to a maximum of 30 percent; ensuring social distancing and spacing between individuals while shopping; and ensuring that general service companies operating in malls conduct frequent cleaning and sterilisation of escalators, elevators, washrooms and other places that are mostly used by shoppers.


Later in the week, on 5 May 2020, ADDED affirmed that owners of restaurants, cafeterias and food outlets across Abu Dhabi,  whether located inside or outside malls and shopping centres, should not receive customers without prior coordination with local departments with regards to compliance with the guidelines related to the health practices and preventive measures aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19.


B. Reopening of commercial centres in Sharjah

On 3 May 2020, Sharjah Economic Development announced that malls, salons and eateries in the Emirate will be allowed to reopen from 12:00 noon to 9:00 p.m. Food stores and pharmacies will be allowed to open 24 hours a day. Reopening of all establishments is contingent on their compliance with anti-Coronavirus measures in line with Circulars issued by the Department. Shoppers will have to wear face masks and gloves at all times.


C. People over the age of 60 and children below the age of 12 are prohibited from entering shopping malls and retail stores


In a joint announcement issued on 6 May 2020, the Ministry of Health and Prevention and the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority stated that people over the age of 60 and children below the age of 12 are prohibited from entering shopping malls, cooperative societies, supermarkets, as well as retail stores located outside shopping centres.


D. Three people or more from same family can travel together in the same car


On 3 May 2020, the Dubai Police clarified that members of the same family as well as first-degree relatives are exempt from the limitation on the number of people who may travel in the same vehicle. Such persons will no longer be subject to fines for exceeding the three-person limit.■

New Measures Implemented by the UAE Authorities in Response to COVID-19 (29 April 2020)

Below is a summary of key new measures that have been implemented by various UAE authorities since 25 April 2020 and the time of this inBrief, 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, 30 April 2020.


I. Economic Relief Measures


A. Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) announces further incentives to support businesses


On 29 April 2020 the ADGM Registration Authority enacted incentives for new businesses, aimed at supporting the establishment of their operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


These incentives are in addition to previously introduced measures by the ADGM which included, among others, a 50 percent waiver on the imposed ADGM FSRA supervision fee, and a 100 percent waiver on the renewal of commercial licensing fees, which will be applicable until 25 March 2021.


The newly enacted incentives for new businesses will commence on 3 May 2020 until 31 December 2020, and include the following:


• A 50 percent reduction on fees associated with the incorporation of new ADGM companies and limited liability partnerships (including branches). The incentives will be applicable to ADGM’s new applicants for financial, non-financial and retail license types, excluding special purpose vehicles, ADGM foundations, venture capital firms, tech start up applicants (seed and emergent), accelerators and incubators, and professional associations.


• A 100 percent reduction on the continuation fee for companies wishing to continue into ADGM from a foreign jurisdiction.


• Existing ADGM companies and limited liability partnerships are now able to request up to three months extension on the nine-month timeline for filing of annual accounts by demonstrating to the Registrar the circumstances hindering their ability to comply with such obligation.


B. Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (DAFZA) incentive packages


On 26 April 2020 DAFZA launched the following incentive packages to support companies operating in the free zone:


1. postponing lease payments for up to three months and facilitating financial payments into easier monthly instalments;


2. exempting retailers from lease payments for a period of up to three months;


3. refunding security deposits on leased spaces and labour guarantees to companies;


4. exempting new companies from registration and licencing fees; and


5. cancelling fines issued to companies.


C. Sharjah Publishing City Free Zone (SPCFZ) economic relief packages


On 25 April 2020 the SPCFZ announced the following economic relief packages to support the business continuity of operating enterprises:


1. a three-month rental fee waiver to ready officeholders who occupy both furnished and unfurnished spaces;


2. a 15 percent rental fee waiver for those who occupy open spaces at SPCFZ; and


3. a 30 percent package fee reduction for all Flexi desk and Dedicated desk customers.


The SPCFZ management has also confirmed that they will not encash any post-dated customer instalment cheques from April to June 2020, and will waive any penalties they may have imposed on businesses until the end of 2020.


II. Precautionary Measures


Instructions from the Federal Transport Authority – Land & Maritime (FTA)


On 27 April 2020 the FTA issued Circular 8 of 2020 listing the following precautionary measures aimed at protecting workers in the UAE ports and territorial waters.


1. Dry docks and ship repair yards


a) All vessels are prohibited from entering any of the UAE dry docks or ship repair yards until the vessel and its crew completes 14 days of quarantine prior to the date of departure from its last port of departure.


b) Notwithstanding point a) above, a vessel operator, in coordination with the vessel agent, shall inform the competent UAE health authorities of any symptoms of suspected COVID-19 cases in order to avoid penalties imposed in the UAE for failure to report such cases.


2. Commercial and private cruising boats


a) All commercial and personal recreational sailing activities will be suspended during the National Disinfection Programme. Individuals residing on islands and mountainous districts who rely on water boats as their primary mode of transport to reach mainland are excluded from this precautionary measure.


b) Foreign yachts will not be allowed entry into nor will they be issued permits to cruise UAE territorial waters.


3. Wooden vessels


Wooden vessels allowed into UAE waters and ports are limited to the following:


a) Vessels loaded with food supplies and fish.


b) Empty vessels with a pre-existing contract to load ready goods.


c) Empty, foreign-registered vessels without a pre-existing contract to purchase goods in the local UAE market are not allowed entry into the UAE ports.


d) Vessels are allowed to remain in UAE waters and ports for a maximum period of seven days while maintaining social distancing protocols and no mixing with crew of other vessels.


III. Technology


AlHosn UAE App


The Ministry of Health and Prevention, Abu Dhabi Health Authority and Dubai Health Authority have jointly launched an app named AlHosn UAE, an official digital platform for COVID-19 tests in the UAE.


The app can be downloaded free of charge on smart devices operating on Android and IOS and will be an official digital platform for COVID-19 tests in the UAE.


The app combines the benefits of StayHome and TraceCovid, the two apps previously launched by the Department of Health. It also guarantees high degree of privacy protection to users through artificial intelligence and other technological tools.


Similar to the TraceCovid app, AlHosn UAE app depends on the use of short-term Bluetooth signals, to show whether the person is in close proximity to people who have had contact with patients infected with the COVID-19 virus. This is possible if infected patients also have the same app on their smart phones as the phones exchange the metadata stored in them. The app is encrypted and the data remain only on the user’s phone. Through this data, the competent health authorities can quickly identify people at risk of transmission of the virus so they can communicate with them. ■