UAE: Mask sales drop by over 90% as all Covid rules are eased

Starting November 7, masks are only mandatory in health facilities and centres for people of determination

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By Khaleej TImes

Sharjah resident Thamjith Mohammed Siddique used to spend around Dh100 a month on masks for his family during peak Covid-19. It came down to about Dh10 every two months, as one box would suffice for the five-member family after mask wearing rules were eased in September this year.

Now that the UAE has eased all Covid safety rules, he plans to keep just one box of masks at home for “emergencies.” Starting November 7, masks are only mandatory in health facilities and centres for people of determination.

Retailers confirmed to Khaleej Times that mask sales have dropped drastically as the country restored full normalcy across all sectors. Some retailers said sales have decreased by over 90 per cent as compared to peak Covid period.

Mahamood Talal from Talal Supermarkets said: “During peak Covid-19, we used to sell up to 70 boxes of masks daily. This came to about 40 a day after a few months. We barely sell three to five boxes a day now.”

Sales of adults’ masks are almost nil. “We mostly sold children’s masks (since September) as they were required on school buses,” said Talal.

With mask wearing made optional in all public places, including mosques and places of worship, Talal expects sales to go down even further.

“We used to keep mask boxes as a ‘display’ item (near the windows or at the cash counter) as they used to sell out. Now, they are stocked in the (cosmetics) section, as was the case before Covid hit,” Talal added.

All Covid-19 restrictions and precautionary measures were lifted in the UAE on Monday. A green pass on Al Hosn app is no longer required to enter public places, while mask wearing is optional in all closed and open spaces.

Kamal Vachani, group director and partner at Al Maya Group, said masks are being sold, “but not to the extent we used to earlier.”

“The Covid situation in Dubai and the UAE has stabilised, and kudos to the government for keeping the country safe,” he said.

Why it’s a good idea to keep your masks on

Though mask wearing is optional, doctors have advised residents to still use the face covering. The number of flu cases in the country has risen as residents have done away with their masks.

Dr Shamsa Lootah, director of Public Health Services Department, had said earlier: “The number of Covid cases had been a lot more in the previous few years as compared to the influenza cases. But this year, we’ve noticed that influenza cases are on the rise as life goes back to normal (post-Covid).”

Dr Nikita Singh, specialist internal medicine, Aster Clinic, Business Bay, explained that the mode of transmission of viruses remains the same: the droplet method of infection. “In addition, these viruses also proliferate during weather changes — like the transition from summer to autumn and then winter.”

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