Muscat: Although many businesses in Oman have been allowed to reopen, people in the country remain cautious about visiting them, owing to concerns they have over exposing themselves and their families to potential infection.
The Supreme Committee for dealing with COVID-19 allowed some 20 economic activities, including museums, tourist sites and cinemas to reopen, while beaches and parks were also once again made accessible to the public.
But Susan Thomas, an Indian expat in Oman, is cautious about the chances of contracting the coronavirus if she goes to a public place.
“We are quite keen on going to the beach this weekend, because going outdoors is a great opportunity for us to connect as a family,” she said. “Directives have been issued for the safety of everyone, but we are still concerned about what were to happen if some were to not follow these rules, or unknowingly transmit the infection to us.”
Under the rules for reopening, many of the businesses that have been allowed to resume operations must operate at reduced capacity, and follow a number of sanitisation protocols to keep their staff and customers safe.
“Yes, Oman is a lovely country to explore, from its wadis to its forts,” said Greg Davies, an Irish national in the country. “My concern is what happens if I were to expose myself accidentally to infection. The consequences there could be dire, especially since I could also endanger my wife and child to the virus. I think it is best we wait for sometime before taking another step towards normalcy. We’ve adjusted to the rules of the pandemic for many months now…what’s a few more weeks?”
Ayman Al Hosni, an Omani citizen from Sohar, was of a similar opinion, saying he had intended to take his parents to the park this weekend, but would wait for a while, because of concerns over their health.
“My parents are old, and they are more susceptible to the pandemic,” he admitted. “If something were to happen to them, I would not be able to live with myself. A walk in the park and time spent outdoors will do them wonders…the fresh air will be good for them, but they understand that it is for their own good that we stay indoors right now, so let us continue to do that for some more time.”
As part of the reopening, gyms, health clubs and beauty parlours were allowed to expand operations, while conference rooms and exhibition halls can also start functioning again. Visa application centres, kindergartens, and rehabilitation clinics were also given the green light to reopen.
Despite scheduling their first show since reopening at 7 pm on Tuesday, the day the decisions were made, cinema operators in Oman have seen very little footfall since reopening to the public.
“We had made preparations to welcome back cinemagoers to our theatres from Tuesday evening onwards – we received many enquiries as to when our first show was after the decision to reopen was announced, but very few people actually turned up,” said the manager of a cinema chain in Oman.
“It is understandable – the coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on all our lives, and we hear so many cautious tales about the chances of increased infection when people in other countries gather in public places, so it will take some time for people to freely venture outside,” he added.