Dubai: “Wear your masks. Keep social distance please. This is for your own safety. Thank you.”
This simple call echoes through Dubai Mall by dozens of volunteers with Dubai Police, to make sure shoppers are complying with precautionary measures to curb COVID-19 pandemic.
Heroes from different nationalities answered the emirate’s call to join hands with law enforcement officers in the battle against the pandemic by applying to Dubai Police volunteering platform.
More than 2,400 volunteers in Dubai are hovering the streets, shopping centres and tourist attractions with one goal — enforcing the culture of wearing masks and social distancing.
Brigadier Jamal Al Jallaf, Director of Criminal Investigation Department at Dubai Police, told Gulf News that despite having officers on duty, it will not be easy to catch everyone flouting the precautionary measures. So they are focusing on making the following of these measures a habit for everybody.
“Intensive efforts made by the government to make sure people not flouting the measures. Dubai Police and its volunteers played a key role in raising the awareness and protecting others,” Brig Al Jallaf told Gulf News.
Dubai Police issued many fines against violators as per the UAE Attorney General resolution No. 38 of 2020 following Cabinet decision No 17 of 2020, regarding implementation of regulations for spreading communicable diseases, according to Brig Al Jallaf.
Moreover, Captain Khalifa Al Room, head of Dubai Police Volunteering Platform, said that 2,432 volunteers worked with Dubai Police for more than 31,482 hours of volunteer work to raise the awareness in shopping centers and tourists attraction spots.
“The volunteers’ main task is to raise the public awareness such as wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. If the person refuses to comply with these measures, then a fine will be issued by Criminal Investigation Department at Dubai police,” Captain Al Room told Gulf News. “We are proud of the number of volunteers because it shows how a number of people have adopted the culture of looking after the measures and their social circle. By following and adhering to these instructions, the UAE has achieved great success in combating the pandemic. It is the public commitment that contributed to the success.”
Al Room reaffirmed Dubai Police’s keenness on embracing the culture of volunteering among its employees and members of the public.
How the volunteers work
For Huzaifa Ibrahim, team leader of volunteers at Dubai Mall, participating in the patrols became a joyful experience despite spending hours away from his family members.
Ibrahim, a 34-year-old from Pakistan, organises a meeting with the volunteers at the main entrance of Dubai Mall, to welcome newcomers, divide them into teams of two members and remind them of their responsibilities. “The world come to its knees because of the pandemic. We have responsibility as residents in the UAE to make sure everyone stay safe. We are here for safety to everyone. Gentle reminder of wearing the mask can make big difference in the battle against COVID-19,” said Ibrahim.
At Dubai Mall, around 20 volunteers, with their noticeable green vests, approach the violators and advise them to wear their masks and maintain physical distance. “The challenges sometimes people don’t understand that this is for their safety. We understand that people come here from different countries and backgrounds and cultures. We ask them politely to put the mask and cover their noses,” added Ibrahim.
He said that many people respond immediately to our instructions but others neglect their gesture. “Most of the people follow the instructions and thanks us. Their thanks are our reward.”
What the volunteers say
Meanwhile, Maha Jasim, an Emirati female volunteer, said that sometimes people ignore their advice or lower the mask as soon as they turn their faces away. “I ask them to cover their noses. I always tell them that it’s for your safety and my safety. I’m proud of my volunteering work with Dubai Police as reminding people of measures might save their lives,” said Maha.
For Tega Agambi from Nigeria, the initiative gives him the opportunity to serve his community. “It is a great privilege for me to wear the volunteer vest and play a role in combating the pandemic. Our role to raise awareness by providing information about the precautionary and preventive measures,” said Agambi. “Together we can beat COVID-19.”
Fines for not wearing a mask
In January, Dubai Police issued 443 fines for not wearing a mask. Along with this, 1,569 warnings were issued to the offenders. Dubai Police said these fines were issued while inspections were carried out at five shopping malls across Dubai.