UAE Covid: How Ramadan 2021 is different from Ramadan 2020

Sahim Salim

Last updated on April 12, 2021 at 8.0 am
The world will mark a socially distanced holy month of Ramadan for the second year straight as the Covid-19 pandemic rages on. People are still masked up and avoiding gatherings to stay safe from the coronavirus.
However, from movement restrictions to congregational prayers at mosques and shopping, Ramadan 2021 is remarkably different from the holy month last year. During Ramadan 2020, acts of worship were confined to the walls of residents' apartments and villas as #StayHome orders were in place to keep them safe.

Here is a look of how things have changed over the course of a year.
>> Congregational prayers at mosques

Mosques remained closed during the holy month of Ramadan last year as a Covid safety measure. Muslims offered their five daily prayers and the Ramadan special, Taraweeh, at their homes. To retain the spiritual nature of the prayers, they were broadcast live from mosques.

This year, mosques remain open and the Taraweeh prayers will be hosted with strict Covid safety measures in place. The special prayers and the preceding Isha would need to be offered within 30 minutes after the call for prayer.
>> Movement restrictions

Last Ramadan, Dubai residents were required to stay home from 10pm to 6am. They could leave their homes only for medical emergencies and after securing a permit from the authorities concerned.

In 2021, all movement restrictions are lifted.
>> Shopping

In 2020, shopping malls, markets and commercial outlets were allowed to reopen just days before the holy month, but from just 12pm to 10pm. They had to operate at 30 per cent capacity.

This year, shopping malls and other centres are fully open. Residents are still required to wear masks and maintain a safe social distance.
>> Restaurants and cafes

Eateries in Dubai were allowed to receive customers at just 30 per cent capacity last year. Shisha and buffet services were suspended.

This Ramadan, too, restaurants are operating at a limited capacity. They can serve customers till 4am during the holy month, with the last order to be placed at 3am.
>> Work from offices

Last year, employees were allowed to work in offices only if absolutely necessary. Capacity was capped at 30 per cent of the total workforce.

This Ramadan, offices are functioning at 100 per cent capacity, even as firms continue to let some employees work from home as an added safety measure.
>> Schools

The education system was 100 per cent online last year in a bid to keep children safe from the coronavirus.

This Ramadan, schools are operating at 100 per cent capacity, with parents being given the choice to opt for distance or in-person classes.
>> Travel

Airports remained shut and commercial passenger flights were suspended on March 23, 2020 - weeks before the holy month began. Only repatriation, humanitarian and cargo flights were operated.

This Ramadan, residents are free to travel, provided they adhere to PCR testing and quarantine requirements.
>> Covid vaccinations

The world was still trying to understand Covid-19 and racing to find a vaccine.

This Ramadan, several effective vaccines have been rolled out, with the UAE leading the race when it comes to administering them. Multiple vaccines are available for free across the UAE. And no, getting jabbed won't break your fast.