Children and face masks
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It has taken us nearly two years of strict measures, diligent work by authorities and remarkable commitment and cooperation by the public, but finally we can say we are starting to win the fight against one of the most deadly pandemics in world history — COVID-19.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention and the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) announced that it is no longer mandatory to wear a facemask in certain places while keeping a safe physical distance of two metres.

The move came after steady improvements in the Coronavirus situation in the country and the “noticeable decline” in the number of COVID-19 cases. Therefore, facemasks can be taken off during exercising in public places, commuting in private vehicles for those who live in the same house as well as at open beaches, beauty salons and swimming pools.

Easing the facemask policy comes as the life in the country steadily returns to normal following a great deal of hard work by the relevant authorities, frontline workers and public and private establishments to mitigate the risk of the outbreak, and the exemplary response of the government to the pandemic, especially the pace and scope of vaccination.

In one of the biggest-ever immunisation campaigns in the world per capita, the UAE leads the world in COVID-19 vaccination. According to Our World In Data figures, 91 per cent of the UAE population have been given at least one dose — 80.78 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated, unmatched milestone. The UAE also leads vaccine doses administered per 100 people, at 195.67, as of September 21, 2021.

However, let us be clear. The pandemic continues to hit hard in other parts of the world. We might be beginning to win the fight but COVID-19 certainly isn’t over. Thus, it is essential to stay vigilant by sticking to the basic precautionary measures such as wearing the facemask in closed places, maintaining a healthy social distance and sanitising. We are still required to keep our facemasks on in public transport, in closed spaces where there is lack of adequate ventilation and there is no room for maintaining the two-metre social distance rule or if one is in the presence of others in close proximity, who are not family.

We must keep our guard up and remember that the vaccine, facemask and social distancing are our effective weapons against the virus. We will prevail together.