The UFC seems to have left Abu Dhabi at just the right time. UFC 257 closed out a three-event run on Fight Island just as COVID-19 cases climbed to record highs in the United Arab Emirates.
According to The National, the UAE saw a record 17 deaths on Tuesday, February 9. The previous high had been 14. The UAE reached that number on Friday. Also on Tuesday, the number of new cases of COVID-19 in the UAE was 3,310. The number of active cases in the country stands at 18,596. The total number of deaths in the UAE is 947.
The UAE hit a record number of 3,977 COVID-19 cases on February 3. According to the Economic Times, the number of daily cases tripled in six weeks.
According to Johns Hopkins, the week of January 24-30 saw a record 25,464 new cases of COVID-19. That week also represented a record death toll of 72. January was the worst month for the pandemic in the UAE. Last month the UAE recorded 95,787 new cases and 181 deaths.
The surge in new infections has resulted in Abu Dhabi tightening some restrictions. As of February 7 (via Gulf News):
- Shopping malls must operate at maximum 40 percent capacity.
- Restaurants and cafes should operate at 60 percent capacity.
- Hotels must operate at maximum 60 percent capacity.
- Private beaches and swimming pools must operate at 50 percent capacity.
- Public beaches and parks must operate at 60 percent capacity.
- Gyms must operate at 50 percent capacity.
- Taxis must operate at 45 percent capacity, and buses at 75 percent capacity.
- Movie theaters are closed until further notice.
- For formal occasions, there are a total of 10 people allowed for weddings and family gatherings, and a maximum of 20 people for funerals and mourning services.
The one restriction that could affect the UFC the most is that no parties or gatherings are permitted until further notice.
The UFC is going to be at its home base in Las Vegas until UFC 260, which takes place on March 27. The next UFC show scheduled after UFC 260 takes place on April 10. That event, and the others that follow, do not have a location scheduled.
Bloody Elbow reached out to the UFC for comment on its plans for future Abu Dhabi events, but did not receive a response before publication.