Abu Dhabi skyline
General view of Abu Dhabi skyline. Image Credit: REUTERS

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi’s week-long movement restrictions to, from and within the emirate have been implemented in order to ensure that the maximum number of residents in the emirate are screened for the coronavirus, the emirate’s top health official has said.

In a statement released on social media, Sheikh Abdulla bin Mohammed Al Hamed, chairman at the Department of Health (DoH), said mass testing is a key to Abu Dhabi’s fight against COVID-19.

“Mass testing is a key pillar of Abu Dhabi’s strategy to contain the spread of COVID-19 through the National Screening Programme. With the expansion of the project to include high-density areas, and to ensure that the largest possible number of the emirate’s population are reached as quickly as possible, we had to ban the movement between cities and reduce contact as much as possible,” Al Hamed said.

Movement will be restricted to and from Abu Dhabi, and within its Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra regions, for a week from tomorrow (Tuesday) onwards.

At the same time, the emirate today opened up hotel beaches, museums and sport activities for residents aged 12 to 60 years, and now also allows for dining in mall-based and standalone restaurants up to 40 per cent of their capacity. This is the first time since March that residents will be able to pursue outdoor leisure activities.

Al Hamed therefore thanked the Abu Dhabi Emergency Crisis and Disasters Committee for easing these restrictions.

“[It] has eased restrictions on some activities to give the residents of each region various entertainment options during this period,” he said.

“Keep in mind that all measures implemented by Abu Dhabi government departments are part of a series of preventative and precautionary measures to reduce contact and maintain the health and safety of all community members,” Al Hamed added.

Abu Dhabi launched the National Screening Programme last month, which aims to test, for free, as many people as possible for the coronavirus. The initiative kicked off in Musaffah, the capital’s industrial area that is densely populated, and it is now also targeting residents in other high-density areas of the emirate. In addition, certain groups of people are also automatically eligible for free screenings, including older residents, pregnant women, Emiratis and those with chronic conditions.