What are the UAE's new Covid-19 rules on masks, flights and quarantine?

UAE authorities updated Covid-19 safety measures came into force on Wednesday

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Latest: UAE mask rules dropped in most public places as authorities relax Covid restrictions

Face masks are no longer required in many indoor places and quarantine rules have been relaxed under a major overhaul of the UAE's Covid-19 safety measures which came into force on Wednesday.

Face coverings are now optional for staff and pupils at schools, many workers heading to offices, visitors to indoor venues such as malls and restaurants and on many flights operated by UAE airlines.

People will only be required to wear face coverings in places of worship, hospitals and on public transport - which includes buses, metros and taxis, - the authorities said in a televised briefing on Monday.

The relaxation of Covid-19 protocols comes amid a sharp drop in infection rates in recent months.

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.

Mask mandates lifted

Members of the public have been required to wear masks in indoor settings, such as at malls and when entering restaurants and cafes, under safety rules in place since the early stages of the pandemic.

In February, however, authorities lifted the requirement to wear face coverings outside.

Now wearing masks will be optional in most indoor settings.

From Wednesday, schools nationwide will not require children or teachers to wear masks.

Staff at restaurants and other eateries would still be required to wear masks while working.

Airlines lift mask requirements

Emirates airline, Etihad Airways and flydubai have announced that passengers are no longer required to wear masks on flights to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“Wearing a face mask is optional in the UAE and on Emirates flights,” Emirates said on its website.

“If you are travelling from or transiting through Dubai International, the mask rules of your destination will apply throughout your journey.”

Flydubai said wearing masks was no longer mandatory on its flights to the emirate.

“Effective from September 28 [Wednesday], passengers travelling to Dubai do not need to wear a face mask while on board their flight,” guidance on the airline's website said.

“At the airport, wearing a face mask is optional and not mandatory.”

It said travellers flying out of Dubai would have to follow mask rules in place at the destination they were travelling to.

“The requirement for passengers travelling from or through Dubai to wear a face mask is determined by the rules applicable at the final destination or transit point.”

Masks will be optional in Dubai Airports from Wednesday, officials have confirmed.

The decision comes as Emirates and Flydubai also confirmed that flights do not have to be worn on services into the city.

"It is not mandatory for passengers to wear face masks at Dubai International (DXB) and Dubai World Central (DWC) effective Wednesday, September 28, 2022," a statement from the airport operator read.

Etihad Airways said on Tuesday that masks on its flights are optional “following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in Abu Dhabi”.

For outbound flights, the national airline said masks “will only be required for passengers flying to China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Maldives, Philippines, South Korea, Seychelles” as well as Canada until September 30.

Green pass validity extended

Vaccinated people and those with exemptions will be required to have tests once every 30 days to keep Al Hosn app green. It was every 14 days previously.

Those who are unvaccinated must take a PCR test every seven days to maintain green status.

Active green pass status is required to enter many public buildings in the capital, including malls, supermarkets and restaurants.

Al Hosn allows the user to show proof they have taken a coronavirus vaccine, or had a recent test.

People in Abu Dhabi have been required to display proof of their Green status since August 20, 2021, to enter supermarkets, malls and gyms, among other premises.

Testing positive for Covid-19

The UAE will require people who catch Covid-19 to quarantine at home for five days instead of 10 under the relaxed measures confirmed on Monday.

People exposed to infected cases must take a PCR test, while vulnerable groups are asked to undertake a test and monitor their condition for seven days.

People exposed to infected cases must undergo a PCR test. Vulnerable people exposed to an infected person are advised to undergo a lab test and monitor their condition for seven days.

Close contact

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.

School safety

From Wednesday, schools nationwide will not require children or teachers to wear masks.

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.

In early April, the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge relaxed school-related Covid-19 prevention protocols.

The protocols removed classroom and bubble closure requirements.

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: September 28, 2022, 7:27 AM