Latest: UAE to strictly enforce mask wearing as Al Hosn green pass test reduced to 14 days
The UAE has taken robust action to help stem the spread of Covid-19 since the virus first emerged two-and-a-half years ago.
A number of safety measures governing the economy, education, travel and the health sector were introduced as part of a major drive to protect public health.
Some restrictions have been eased in recent months — including the wearing of masks outdoors and close contact procedures — in line with a cautious return to normality.
But other rules remain in place to help to win the fight against the disease.
Here is The National’s guide to the latest Covid-19 rules.
Testing positive for Covid-19
In Dubai, anyone with a positive PCR test for Covid-19 is a confirmed case. That means you have to isolate for 10 days, even if you do not have symptoms.
The Dubai Health Authority said the first thing you should do is download the Covid-19 DXB app. If you do not, you will be liable for a Dh10,000 fine.
After that, you should “immediately” isolate in a separate room from family members. You must also inform your employer.
The 10-day home isolation period is mandatory. The first day is the day you took the PCR test.
A person with two positive tests is a confirmed case in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre says high-risk categories – those who are 50 years old or above or have severe symptoms or have a chronic disease or pregnant women – should visit a Covid-19 primary assessment centre for medical assessment and isolation measures, following a first positive test.
Those for whom the above doesn’t apply – such as demonstrating no symptoms following a positive test – should visit any health facility in the emirate for retesting.
The isolation period is ten days and requires two negative PCR tests to end quarantine. This period can be cut short if two negative tests are returned 24 hours apart.
Labourers of government and private companies are required to call 909 immediately for co-ordination of transportation to designated isolation facilities.
Anyone who experiences severe respiratory symptoms is urged to call 999.
As of March 25, quarantine is not required for those who came in close contact with a positive case of Covid-19. The directive was issued by the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (Ncema).
However, they must undergo a PCR test on day one and seven, or when the contact starts showing symptoms of Covid-19.
Each emirate has the freedom to set its own rules and in Dubai, close contacts of positive cases who are not experiencing any symptoms do not have to take a PCR test.
Abu Dhabi Public Health Centre advises family members of positive cases to avoid contact with the patient and conduct PCR tests when required. All household members are urged to stay at home until the patient returns a negative tests.
Indoor mask use
Face masks have been central to local and international efforts to save lives and reduce infections.
For much of the pandemic, people in the UAE were mandated to wear face coverings in both indoor and outdoor settings.
In February, however, authorities lifted the requirement to wear face coverings outside.
But they must still be worn in all indoor areas and venues, including shopping malls and schools.
At a coronavirus briefing on Monday, authorities said the wearing of face masks in indoor public settings would be strictly enforced, with Dh3,000 fines for those breaching rules.
Each emirate free to amend rules
The government says said each emirate was free to amend its own Covid rules in some areas, including “the quarantine period and PCR tests for Covid contacts in whatever sectors and professions”.
Within closed areas, “for economic and tourist sectors, physical distancing has been cancelled while mask-wearing in closed places is still mandatory”.
Previous directives have allowed each of the emirates to impose different rules — particularly relating to public venues, bars, restaurants, gatherings in private residences, weddings and funerals — while enforcing federal rules on issues such as mask wearing.
The Ncema holds periodic televised media briefings to give updates on rules and Covid cases.
Although it is principally focused on Abu Dhabi emirate, the other emirates have often followed its decisions.
Classrooms emptied and pupils switched to distance learning in the early months of the pandemic.
The UAE has sought to ease safety rules in recent months, including a widespread return to in-person education. However, some preventative measures remain in case of outbreaks among the school population.
In early April, the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge relaxed school-related Covid-19 prevention protocols.
The updated protocols removed classroom and bubble closure requirements.
A school would close for three days only if 15 per cent of its pupil population tested positive at the same time.
Following the completion of the closure period, pupils who are close contacts must abide by the testing schedule, while pupils who tested positive must study remotely until they have completed their isolation periods.
Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority has said that schools will continue to offer distance learning in some cases, such as when pupils test positive for Covid-19, pupils are close contacts, have Covid-19 symptoms, and are awaiting the results of a PCR test.
Pupils who live with family members, who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, can also have access to distance learning.
Dubai Health Authority closely monitor schools and positive Covid-19 cases in them.
DHA determines when a school, class, or section has to move to distance learning based on the risk to pupils. Schools have to inform DHA if a pupil tests positive for Covid-19.
Green pass protocols
Al Hosn app was established to help to track and trace Covid-19 cases in the Emirates, but its scope soon broadened to assist the national vaccination drive.
The app allows the user to show proof of a coronavirus vaccine or a recent test, often to gain entry to public places in Abu Dhabi or as a requirement by their employer, such as in service industries and schools, by showing green status.
Green status can be secured by fully vaccinated people who have received two doses of any approved Covid-19 vaccine in the UAE, plus a booster dose if eligible.
Unvaccinated people must receive a negative PCR test every 7 days to maintain green status.
From Wednesday the time for which Al Hosn status remains green will be cut to 14 days from 30.
It had previously been extended from 14 to 30 days in April.
People do not have to take a PCR test to change their status on Al Hosn app from red to green. A red means a positive case while a green one means a negative.
If you have tested positive, the app says you can “quarantine for 10 days and wait for your code to turn green automatically on day 11”.
The app says this green code will stay for 30 days, after which you must take a PCR test every 14 of the next 60 days.
Travelling to Abu Dhabi and Dubai from abroad
As of February, passengers flying to Abu Dhabi and Dubai from all countries do not require a PCR test before flying if fully vaccinated.
Those not vaccinated must present a negative Covid-19 result issued within 48 hours of their flight or a valid medical certificate demonstrating they had recovered from Covid-19 within one month of their arrival.
It is now no longer mandatory to take a PCR test upon arrival in Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The UAE lifted a ban on overseas travel for unvaccinated Emiratis in April.
Citizens must present a negative result from a PCR test taken within 48 hours of travel under the updated Covid-19 safety measures announced on Wednesday.
They must also complete travel forms in Al Hosn app to turn their application status green.
Authorities had prevented unvaccinated citizens from travelling from January 10 as part of efforts to limit the spread of the virus.
Travelling abroad from UAE
If travelling from the UAE, passengers must check the requirements of the country they are travelling to because these change frequently.
When travelling from Dubai with Emirates airline, a PCR test before departure is not needed, unless the destination requires it.
When travelling from Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways, you need to take a test only if it is required at your final destination.
Updated: June 15, 2022, 6:51 AM