Although Covid-related restrictions on movement in Dubai have been partially eased since April 24, enabling people to leave their homes during the day without a permit for the first time in weeks, there has been some confusion with regard to what this means for children.

While the official announcement mentioned that people were now allowed outside for up to two hours of exercise per day and to visit immediate family members, it did not specify whether children were included in this.

It did however specify that children aged between three and 12 years would not be allowed into malls, which have recently reopened for reduced hours.

Meanwhile, the Government of Dubai Media Office released this video, which suggested that children should still remain indoors, despite the easing of restrictions for adults.

It was initially announced that children were not allowed to go outside

This generated a lot of discussion across social media, with many people unsure as to whether their little ones are actually allowed outside or not.

The Dubai Government Media Office has since clarified the following:

Are children allowed to go out for exercise?
“Children may accompany their parents to walk in their neighbourhood for 1-2 hours, so long as they are taking the right precautions of adhering to the social distancing measures, limiting the number to three people only and wearing face masks.” 

Are babies and children below the age of three years allowed out for a walk with their parents, either strapped into a stroller or walking?

“It is advisable not to take children below the age of three years out where there will be chances of getting infected, or where they might be exposed to surfaces from which they might catch the virus and transfer it to others. If the parents can take the full responsibility and precautionary measures [to protect their children and prevent them from touching surfaces] then they may go out.”

Children aged 3-12 years are not allowed to go into malls. But are they allowed to accompany their parents to the supermarket or pharmacy?

“Children are not allowed to go to the supermarkets too because they would either be vulnerable or they would touch surfaces with the virus and transfer it to the adults, which we want to avoid. The new measures by the government have been put to keep children and adults safe and to prevent them from getting infected by the virus.”

The new guidance says that visits to family members are permitted. Are children of all ages therefore allowed out of the house in order to visit family members?

“Children are allowed to visit their family members, taking into consideration the measures announced, such as limiting the visit to a maximum of five people, and leaving a space of 1.5m while they are sitting in one place.”

There is some concern that face masks do not fit children or babies’ faces properly and that they may pose a suffocation risk. Are babies and children also required to wear a face mask if they are outside?

“Yes, a face mask is a must for everybody and there are certain types made for children. If the children would feel suffocated then it is advisable not to take them outside the house. Let’s always remember, the safety of the whole community is the responsibility of everyone.”

It’s important to note that, while children may be allowed to go outside, it is every parent’s responsibility to ensure that their children do not touch surfaces which could be infected, and that they practice social distancing of at least 2 metres between them and other people. If you allow your child to be taken outside by a nanny or other carer, it’s vital that they are fully aware of the restrictions and are fully capable of implementing them in your stead.

Don't feel comfortable taking your little one outside? Check out these virtual play groups for babies and tots, where they can enjoy communal singing and storytime activities while safely at home. 

In full: Reduced restrictions on movement for the General Public

Individuals are able to leave their homes between 6am and 10pm without a permit. The public are required to strictly follow precautionary measures, which include maintaining physical distance from others as per guidelines and wearing a face mask. Those who do not wear a mask will be subject to a fine of Dh1,000.

During the hours of 10pm and 6am the public is allowed to leave their homes only for medical emergencies.

Exercising outside the home:
Members of the public (including children) are allowed to exercise outside their homes provided they do not leave their area of residence. They can undertake activities such as walking, running or cycling for 1-2 hours each time. Only a maximum of three persons can exercise at the same time. Individuals must follow preventive measures including ensuring two-metre distance from other individuals and wearing face masks.

Family Visits:
Considering the advent of Ramadan and the social customs and traditions surrounding the Holy Month, members of the public are permitted to visit first and second degree relatives. Gatherings should be restricted to not more than five people. However, visiting high-risk individuals (individuals above 60 years and those with underlying medical conditions) should be avoided. It is prohibited to hold gatherings in public or private places.

Shopping malls and commercial outlets:
Shopping malls, markets and commercial outlets will be open daily to the public from 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Furthermore, restaurants and shops are allowed to operate at a maximum of 30 percent capacity at the shopping malls.

- Malls and retail outlets are not allowed to hold entertainment events to avoid congestion and crowding.

- There will be no valet parking at malls and restaurants. The first hour of parking in shopping malls will be free.

- Only 25% of the parking spaces will be open in order to reduce overcrowding in malls. The public should visit a mall only when absolutely necessary.

- Sterilisation operations will continue inside malls. Visitors will be subject to temperature checks at entrances and will be required to wear masks as a condition for entering a mall. Malls are also required to make sterilisers widely available to ensure the highest level of protection for visitors and workers.

- All shopping malls will have a medical isolation room for emergency purposes in case someone in the mall is suspected to be infected with the virus.

- Individuals above the age of 60 and children between three and 12 years of age will not be allowed to enter malls.

- As part of a new mandatory policy, purchases can be returned or exchanged at all stores and outlets only of there is a defect.

- Malls and outlets are encouraged to use smart and electronic payment methods and avoid the use of cash.

Restaurants and Cafes:
Restaurants and cafés are allowed to operate normally but are not permitted to serve shisha and buffet. Dine-in customers are allowed but should occupy only a maximum of 30% of the outlet’s capacity.

- A two-metre physical distance should be strictly maintained between individuals. All diners and staff should wear masks.

- Only single-use cutlery can be used at restaurants and cafes.

- Restaurants are allowed to provide food delivery services between 10.00 pm and 6.00 am.

- Services offered at salons for males and females will be restricted to hair and nail services. Customers can be received only by prior appointment and all preventive and health measures should be strictly observed.

Public Transport:
Public transport services, including Dubai metro services, will be resumed from Sunday 26 April. The normal tariff system will be reintroduced. Precautionary measures will continue to be followed and there will be specific guidelines for passengers.

- Red and green line metro services will operate between 7.00 am and 11.00 pm.

- Preventive measures should be strictly followed by all passengers and staff in metros, taxis and buses and at public transport stations including maintaining physical distance and wearing face masks.

- Only two passengers are allowed in one taxi.

- Water transport, tram, limousine, and car sharing services will continue to be suspended.

Administrative offices for companies and institutions:
- Employees are allowed to work in offices only if it is absolutely necessary. Their numbers should not exceed 30% of the total workforce. The rest of the workforce can continue working remotely from home. Companies should constantly monitor the number of employees and visitors entering and leaving the workplace every day.

- Meetings should be held at the office only if it is absolutely necessary. Attendees should not exceed five people and each person should maintain a two-metre physical distance from others.

- Daily sterilisation of the workplace is mandatory and employees and visitors should be provided with sanitisers at all times. Everyone is required to wear face masks when at the workplace.

General guidelines:
- Individuals are prohibited from distributing food except through mass distribution initiatives organised under the supervision of licensed charity organisations and relevant authorities.

- Individuals are advised not to share food with family members living in different homes. If food needs to be shared with relatives or friends living in the same area, it should be transported in sealed containers.

- Reopening of mosques has been postponed since close proximity between worshippers can pose risks of infection. Group prayers are not authorised to be held in public places and mosques. Group prayers and Taraweeh prayers are permitted at home but the worshippers must be from the same family, residing in the house.

- Individuals who step out of their homes for any purpose must wear a face mask and avoid touching any surfaces or their face. They must also use hand sanitisers and wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

- Seniors and people with chronic diseases or any illness are not allowed to leave the house and must avoid going to public places to ensure their safety.

- Domestic workers are prohibited from meeting anyone outside the home or receiving food from unknown sources. They should be provided with protective gear if they need to interact with people outside the house. They must also be guided on precautionary measures to be followed when receiving deliveries of parcels or goods (including disinfecting the packaging and using gloves).

Read more:

5 Safeguarding steps to protect your expat family during the pandemic

11 Covid-crisis coping strategies for parents feeling the strain