Muscat: Locals and expatriates in Oman will be celebrating a low-key long weekend which begins this Thursday, owing to ongoing measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thursday, March 11, 2021, is an official holiday in the country, on the occasion of the blessed anniversary of Al Isra’a Wal Miraj.
While a ban on businesses operating at night is in effect until the 20th of this month, parks and beaches are also closed to the public, and large-scale gatherings are suspended until further notice.
“I do not think we will be able to take our children to the places we usually take them,” said Jassim Al Balushi, an Omani national. “Because of all the measures, we are not free to go to the places we could go to before, and that is understandable right now.
“We are also careful about buying things from the wrong places, because of hygiene, particularly so that we can take care of our kids properly,” he added. “We will follow the same procedures this time as well. The most important thing right now is that my family and I stay safe, even during the upcoming weekend.”
“We wish things soon go back to normal so that we can enjoy the same standard of life we were previously used to,” added Al Balushi, who works in higher education.
Ali Al Barwani, another Omani, hoped he could use the holiday to spend quality time together with his family, and take a break from the technology that many in the country (and around the world) have become reliant on to continue with work and education.
“Whether it is at home or for work, technology has had the biggest influence on our life now,” he admitted.
“Our meals, for example, are now ordered through apps. We cannot go out right now, because of COVID-19, nor can we visit our friends and family members, and even if we do visit them, the talk is always about the coronavirus.”
Al Barwani added, “We’ve had more than a year of the pandemic now, and what is most important now is to maintain our health. This virus has taken a mental and emotional toll on our families. Because the virus has stayed around for so long, I feel we are a bit reluctant to maintain the same kinds of precautions we previously did, but that is not a good thing.”
“We really miss our old lives: we like to go camping, attend events, socialise, some people might choose to volunteer, but because of COVID-19, we cannot do all of these things. This virus has really put us in a dilemma on how to move forward, so I ask everyone who’s been asked to take the vaccine to do so, that we may return faster to normal life.”
The welfare of children was a common subject shared by many in the county, including Stephen Hendricks, a British national.
“The weekends are when we normally drive up to the mountains or to Jabal Sifah, but I do not think that is the best idea for us now,” he said. “We might choose to go out somewhere, but it will be for a short while only.”
Mukul Mehta, an Indian expatriate, was of the same mindset, saying, “My wife and I will probably go to some place like Bandar Khayran or somewhere further out for a few hours. Staying at home all the time really gets to you, so it will be good to use this public holiday to get out of the house for a while. I suppose a lot of others might be doing so as well.”