World’s Fair in Dubai Warns of Possible Closures over Virus

The multibillion-dollar world’s fair in Dubai has warned that some venues on site may shut down as coronavirus cases rapidly rise in the United Arab Emirates, the Associated Press reported. Dubai’s Expo 2020 said that virus outbreaks among staff may force some parts of the fair to “close temporarily for deep cleaning and sanitization,” without elaborating on the scope or the location of the infections. The UAE’s daily virus caseload has skyrocketed by a multiple of 37 in just the last three weeks after the arrival of the omicron variant. The vague statement from Dubai’s government-run media office underscores the daunting challenges of hosting among the world’s first major in-person events amid a still-raging pandemic. The fair opened in October after a year’s delay as the UAE bet that its rapid vaccine rollout would allow its economy to avoid the closures that have paralyzed much of the West. Expo tries to enforce various virus precautions, with face masks mandatory on the fairgrounds and a vaccination certificate or recent negative virus test needed for entry. But the highly transmissible omicron variant, which is thought to evade immunity from vaccination, poses a new test. With Dubai’s peak winter tourism season in full swing, the world’s fair has vaulted into the spotlight. Millions of tourists from around the world are flocking to the sprawling site packed with scores of national pavilions, restaurants, shops and performance stages. Christmas parades drew crowds last week and Expo is now gearing up for big concerts to attract party-goers on New Year’s Eve. Read more.