The Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA) has announced preparations to reopen nine major vegetable and meat markets in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, in coordination with Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) and Department of Municipalities and Transport. The resumption of the markets' operations comes with the strict implementation of the precautionary measures and health guidelines set by ADAFSA in coordination with the relevant authorities.
This helps reinforce the precautionary measures taken by the UAE to combat COVID-19, ensure the safety and health of consumers, and provide them with their needs food goods. ADAFSA also set the official timings for reopening the markets according to the National Sterilization Program, and the market's ability in organizing shoppers' entry and implementing the necessary precautions.
Furthermore, ADAFSA revealed markets that will be allowed to resume operations are distributed in the emirate's regions. In addition to having proper spaces for handling food at this time, these markets are fully equipped to implement the necessary precautionary measures to protect workers and consumers alike. ADAFSA noted this decision does not apply to market stalls, but it is limited to a specific number of facilities in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra.
According to ADAFSA, the markets that will resume operations in Abu Dhabi include vegetables and meat shops in Mushrif Mall, meat shops in Al Mina market, Green Market in Bani Yas, and Green Market in Shahama. In addition, ADAFSA will reopen vegetable and fruit market and butcher shops at Souq Al Jabra in Al Ain, and the Central Market in Madinat Zayed and the central vegetable and fish market in Ruwais, Al Dhafra. Therefore, vegetable and meat markets will be open to the public from 10am to 7pm, while consumers can enter fish markets, which were reopened early April, from 10am to 5pm.
ADAFSA also set several guidelines for business owners to reopen their facilities, including conducting COVID-19 test for food handlers at SEHA's accredited centers, adhering to circulars issued by ADAFSA in this regard, allowing shoppers to enter markets after wearing masks and gloves, conducting temperature checks for consumers, and preventing the entry of those whose temperatures are above 37.5°C. Limiting shoppers volume to 30% of the markets' capacity will be mandatory for the markets' management. In addition, they should provide sanitizers at the entrance and exit gates of each market, obliging all shoppers to sanitize themselves before entering and when leaving the market.
According to the ADAFSA, the market management should implement a program to sanitize the market's facilities daily and efficiently, to ensure the health and safety of workers and shoppers, in addition to tightening control over entrance and exit gates in coordination with police patrols, to avoid random entry of consumers. Moreover, shop workers should comply with health precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They also should wear masks and gloves during work, and change them frequently. In addition to preventing consumers from touching products, the market management should ensure maintaining adequate ventilation in facilities.
The authority urged market management to encourage shoppers to use online payment services, maintain social distance of at least 1.5 metres, and make purchases within about 15 minutes. The market management should manage waiting time and customer numbers in butcher and vegetable shops, as well as providing guidance signs specified on the floor, to ensure keeping the safe spacing.
ADAFSA further called on all consumers to commit to guidelines and precautionary measures implemented by the relevant authorities and market management, to keep their health. As they should not accompany children and older persons when shopping, customers should shop quickly, wear masks and gloves before shopping, and sanitize themselves before entering and when leaving the market. Moreover, ADAFSA urged the public to follow its social media accounts to find more about the precautionary measures to combat COVID-19, and mechanism for handling food properly under the current circumstances.