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Dubai halts live entertainment as virus cases surge

Dubai’s tourism department announces an immediate halt to all live entertainment at hotels and restaurants, a day after suspending non-urgent surgeries at hospitals to deal with an influx of COVID-19 patients.

Both decisions come after months of Dubai promoting itself as the ideal pandemic-friendly vacation spot while coronavirus infections skyrocketed. Now, the sheikhdom is showing signs of strain.

Even as cases surged to previously unseen heights in the United Arab Emirates, the city-state of Dubai had been a glimmering desert oasis for tourists fleeing tough lockdowns elsewhere, including thousands from Israel. Since reopening in the spring, the commercial hub has resisted more restrictions that would pummel its economy, built largely on aviation, hospitality and retail.

Despite the ubiquitous masks outdoors, a sense of pre-pandemic normalcy has prevailed in the city. Bands, dancers and DJs had been performing in bars and clubs for socially-distanced crowds. Hotel occupancy rates surged over 70% in December, nearing 2019 holiday levels. The city’s airport welcomed over 70,000 travelers for New Year’s weekend alone.

Times of Israel contributed to this report.

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