Following the directives of His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah and Chairman of Sharjah Executive Council, the Emirate has stepped up the reopening of various vital sectors allowing 50% capacity with all the necessary preventive and precautionary measures in place to fight the Coronavirus epidemic. The crucial reactivating of the economic, tourism and other key sectors is all set to begin from June 24, 2020.
The Sharjah Emergency and Crisis Management Team led by Major General Saif Muhammad Al Zari Al Shamsi, Commander-in-Chief of Sharjah Police, held a remote meeting in the presence of heads of various Sharjah government institutions and entities to discuss the Emirate's preparations to return to normalcy and reopen the vital government and economic sectors after the long lockdown necessitated by Covid-19.
The meeting was attended by Sheikha Nawar bint Ahmed Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, Dr Tariq bin Khadem, Head of Sharjah Human Resources Directorate, HE Ali Salem Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah International Airport Authority, HE Khaled Jassim Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Commercial and Tourism Development Authority, HE Sultan bin Haddah Al Suwaidi, Head of the Department of Economic Development, HE Salem bin Muhammad Al Naqbi, Head of the Department of Municipalities and Agriculture Affairs, Dr Mohdath Al Hashemi, Chairperson of Sharjah Authority for Special Education, HE Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, Chairperson of the Environment and Protected Areas Authority, HE Engineer Yousef Saleh Al-Suwaiji, Chairman of the Roads and Transport Authority, HE Sultan bin Butti Al Muhairi, Secretary General of Sharjah Executive Council and HE Manal Al Ataya, Director General of the Sharjah Museums Authority.
Resumption of work
Normal working hours have been restored in all Sharjah government departments and institutions while strictly observing all precautionary and preventive measures. Accordingly government offices and institutions have witnessed the return of staff under the shift system with 30% occupancy rate. The percentage will be gradually increased depending on new developments and improvement in the situation. These changes will take place with the approval of the concerned authorities in order to enhance the continuity of government work and ensure the provision of government services to the people.
Tourism, Economic Sectors
This stage also includes the resumption of all economic and tourism activities in the Emirate from June 24 including opening of cinemas in the Emirate at 50% in a manner that does not conflict with public safety procedures and 50% attendance curbs for workers according to the terms of public safety and sterilisation operations.
Maj Gen Saif Zari Al Shamsi, Commander in Chief of Sharjah Police, stressed that the safety and protection of people from the novel Coronavirus is the highest priority of the Emirate even as it restarts the economic and tourism activities with all the preventive and protective measures in place.
Al Shamsi called on all stakeholders as well as the residents to exercise utmost social responsibility at this next stage and remain at high alert against the risk of the disease. He emphasised Sharjah's keenness to ensure the safety and health of all individuals even as the Emirate returns to normalcy.
Returning to work
Maj Gen Al Shamsi underscored the importance of returning to normalcy with curbs on social interaction and limited attendance in accordance with the strict preventive measures prescribed by the authorities in order to bolster the economic and financial sectors in a way that facilitates the government work and strengthens the work system.
The meeting discussed the various precautionary measures taken by Sharjah government institutions and departments to restart work while ensuring the working hours and attendance of staff does not exceed 50%. The working hours and strength of staff will be gradually increased as the situation permits with the approval of the concerned authorities in order to allow smooth government work and ensure vital services are not affected.
Remote work system
The Emergency and Crisis Management team also agreed to continue the remote work system for certain groups in accordance with the federal and local government decisions, with the head of the department being allowed to increase the strength of employees according to the conditions and work requirements.
The remotely allowed groups include those with chronic diseases, pregnant women, the elderly at risk, mothers of children under the ninth and tenth grade and those with family members who are at risk of mixing with the infected or at-risk cases.
The meeting recognised the commitment of remotely dealing with the departments concerned by providing services to the public during the next two months as the digital network in the Emirate provides flexibility of work. It has already proven its effectiveness and ability to meet the challenges of the current stage, providing remote communication services in accordance with the highest standards of efficiency and professionalism.
The Emirate's initiatives to ensure the return of employees is commensurate with the nature of work in accordance with productivity and efficiency standards, conducting free checks for employees and continuous sterilisation of government entities to reduce the chances of virus transmission between employees.
On this occasion, it was decided to open beaches resorts, restaurants and swimming pools, and allow activities with 50% occupancy.
Sharjah Art Foundation
Sheikha Nawar Al Qasimi, Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, presented two initiatives on the opening of some venues and facilities affiliated with the Foundation, including the Rain Room, to provide safety and protection for all those visiting the building that requires reservation of tickets remotely, which allows controlling the number of visitors and arranging appointments that are compatible with preventive measures and maintaining the safety of individuals. The second initiative relates to the establishment of an art gallery with all safety measures, including sterilisation, testing of workers and technicians, and ensuring that they are not in contact with external societies exposed to the Coronavirus.
Human Resources Department
Dr Tariq Sultan bin Khadim, Head of Sharjah Human Resources Directorate reaffirmed the department’s keenness to ensure the availability of safety and preventive measures for all government agencies and departments prior to the resumption of work.
He mentioned a slew of conditions that were established to ensure the safety of employees, including their commitment to put face masks and hand sanitisers and the necessary checks for employees in accordance with the requirements prior to the start of work. He stressed on home stay for those who have any symptoms or who have been in contact with the infected, suggesting social distancing between employees, avoidance of handshaking, and the necessity to inform the supervisor if any symptoms are suspected.
He underscored the importance of ensuring protection of employees and their safety, noting that some jobs are excluded from resuming work in the next two months, whose circumstances require mixing with the external community to address the risk of infection transmission, while studying a number of proposals that ensure these categories are free of the virus risk and its transmission to other employees. The Human Resources Directorate has also released a guide for employees to protect themselves from the virus.
Sharjah International Airport
HE Ali Salem Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah International Airport Authority, vowed to enforce all necessary measures to ensure the safety of travellers and employees, pointing to the preventive measures that are being taken in accordance with the procedures being followed in the UAE, which includes mandatory wearing of masks by employees at all times at the Sharjah International Airport.
The precautionary measures of the Sharjah Airport Authority include a set of controls that oblige travellers to wear face masks and adhere to the rules of social distancing as a prerequisite to boarding the plane, and to provide sterilisation gates with continuous sterilisation operations throughout the day throughout the airport at all entrances and exits, gates and luggage transport carts, escalators and all surfaces, as well as the planes and the corridors leading to it, as well as the buses to transport passengers, in addition to all passage being monitored through thermal cameras to ensure their safety.
The post lockdown phase will see the reopening of the airport as stipulated by the National Authority for Emergency and Crisis and Disaster Management and the General Authority of Civil Aviation, and receiving the numbers of passengers (departures/arrivals/transit) accordingly.
It also includes the operation of the duty free shops in accordance with the criteria stipulated by the competent authorities and while observing all the necessary preventive and health safety measures and procedures.
Tourism and hospitality sector
HE Khaled Jassim Al Midfa, Chairman of the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority reviewed the initiatives of the authority in restarting the tourism activities that were suspended in stages starting at 50%, and includes the hotel beaches, swimming pools and restaurants, and in the coming stages, the percentage of opening tourism activities will be expanded after studying the situation.
Al Midfa stressed the adoption of precautionary measures in sectors that are being reopened at all stages, including the proportions of the absorptive hall that do not exceed 50%, maintaining the physical distance between individuals in beaches and public places, and setting signs of spacing for customers.
The meeting decided to provide training and remote testing facilities to employees of food establishments registered within the Sharjah Food Safety Programme and resume the collection of fees for renewing occupational health cards for facilities under the supervision of the municipality at 50%. Also, the vaccination services for workers in food and health facilities will be resumed by 50%.
The meeting approved the activation of the pre-reservation service to provide samples for testing in laboratories as well as government fees, fines for violations. Also resumed will be fees for renewing vehicle licenses issued by the Food Control Department. Also a special guide has been released for workers in the tourism sector in both Arabic and English to ensure protection from the Coronavirus disease.
HE Sultan bin Haddah Al Suwaidi, Chairman of the Department of Economic Development, stressed the importance of various incentives offered by the Emirate to resume and bolster economic activity and reduce the impact of the virus on various economic activities. He pointed to the department’s keenness to continue the practice of economic activities in the Emirate in accordance with the highest safety standards.
Bin Haddah pointed out that the effects of the global pandemic on the economic sector in the Emirate have been limited without harming the interests of individuals and economic establishments. The Emirate of Sharjah is committed to protect the economic and financial sector's interests and support the sector all the way, resuming economic activities in addition offering the various option of carrying out economic transactions online.
Bin Haddah revealed that during the past three months, 37,444 smart transactions were carried, which is a positive indication that the sector has not been affected, indicating the resumption of economic activities by 50%, with a gradual increase herald a positive change which may soon grow to 100%.
The head of the Department of Economic Development stressed the department's keenness to consider the proposals of the financial and investment stakeholders in the Emirate and work to implement them to serve their economic activities and their various actions.
The critical post lockdown second stage also includes opening of cinemas and fitness clubs for both men and women, children's game rental facilities, online games centres and Internet cafes, water bike rental facilities, sports facilities and establishments and parking services etc.
Municipalities and Agriculture Affairs Department
HE Salem bin Muhammad Al Naqbi, Head of Municipalities and Agriculture Affairs Department, said that 14 proposals have been developed by nine municipalities of the Emirate that are linked to the various sectors to be reopened gradually in coordination with the concerned authorities and departments in accordance with economic decisions and incentives approved by the Sharjah Executive Council.
Dr Mohadeth Al Hashemi, Chairperson of Sharjah Authority for Special Education, discussed the initiative of the Authority to reopen 58 institutes and training centres for languages, education, vocational and technical training with occupancy rates not exceeding 50%.
Al Hashemi said the decision on reopening nurseries and schools will be taken according to the directions issued by the UAE government.
Engineer Youssef Saleh Al Suwaiji, Chairman of the Roads and Transport Authority, announced the move to restart Jubail bus station with 50% capacity, as it serves vital external lines between the Emirate of Sharjah and the other emirates, so that several stations will be gradually increased.
Parks and Museums
HE Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, Chairperson of Environment and Protected Areas Authority said that the Authority will resume work with the return of administrative staff by 50%, followed by preparing four centres being opened over a two-week period to receive visitors not exceeding 50% capacity. These include Al Hefaiyah Mountain Conservation Centre, Kalba, Wasit Wetland Centre, Al Dhaid Wildlife Center, Buhais Geology Park as well as the Desert Parks.
She stressed the Authority’s keenness to ensure the safety of workers in its various reserves ensuring that they do not mix with the external community and maintain their safety and the safety of visitors during the next stage, noting a proposal to provide 23 sterilization gates to receive visitors.
HE Manal Al Ataya, Director General of the Sharjah Museums Authority presented a four-stage plan to reopen a number of museums in the Emirate after taking all preventive measures according to the stipulated guidelines to reopen the tourist and cultural destinations. The first stage begins with four museums, including the Museum of Islamic Civilization, the Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah Archeology Museum and the Sharjah Aquarium with 50% capacity.
The museums of the first stage were chosen as they are compatible with the precautionary measures in providing all safety requirements for their large size and absorptive capacity that allows the possibility of divergence to be gradually expanded in the opening of heritage buildings during the coming stages.