For the past year and a half, as we witnessed the different stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, people around the world have lived with the concern that if they lowered their guard, they could test positive for coronavirus. Notwithstanding the wearing of masks, social distancing and the by-now familiar sight of hands being sanitised and surfaces being wiped down with disinfectant, fears have been all too real, exacerbated in recent months by worries over contracting the Delta variant.
But even as polls show that people in countries such as the US and Germany are worrying about the coming winter and the rising number of new infections, more and more cities have regulations in place to ensure safe environments, and for people to be assured that no one around them is Covid-19 positive.
As many parts of the world move on to the next stage of managing the pandemic, the UAE is in a position where 74 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated. Besides planning, smart governance and an efficiently rolled out vaccine programme, to a large extent, the adoption of technology is doing the trick, making the future look well under control. At the weekend in Abu Dhabi, the green pass came into force. The new rules in the Emirate make life easier for people who have been fully vaccinated, and have proof of that on Al Hosn app.
The rules require people who want to visit cafes, schools, universities, malls, cultural centres, museums, gyms and so on to show that they have received both jabs and tested at least once in the previous 30 days. This will go a long way to keep Covid numbers down, track infections and keep the pandemic under check. Adopting such measures will be key in perhaps reaching the tail end of the pandemic, with all the right precautions and safeguards in place.
With 17.622 million doses administered and nearly 84 per cent of the population having received one vaccine dose, the UAE has clearly managed to safeguard its residents and citizens. Regardless of the fact that people could face minor inconveniences of perhaps being turned away from, say, a shop if they haven't been vaccinated, the green pass is prudent in the longer run. More people will be inclined to receive their doses if access to places they visit depends on their "green status".
Nor are green passes becoming the norm only in UAE. It is the direction the world is largely set to follow. Months ago, Israel was one of the first to adopt the green pass. Many countries have similarly followed.
At the weekend, in the US, San Francisco too made it clear that people dining inside restaurants, working out in gyms or attending indoor concerts had to show proof of full vaccination against Covid-19. The new rule goes beyond New York City, which requires people to be at least partially inoculated for a variety of indoor activities.
France requires a similar health pass to visit the cinema, museums, airports and other public areas. As French President Emmanuel Macron said: “It’s a question of being a good citizen… our freedom is worth nothing if we infect our friends, neighbours or grandparents."
This month Italy too rolled out the green pass "to keep economic activity open", as the Italian premier Mario Draghi said.
With increasing numbers of all age-groups being nudged to get vaccinated, it will rest on people to make countries safer for themselves and their fellow citizens. By extension, it will depend on people to make it possible for life to go back to normal faster.