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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 8 March 2021

Covid-19 rules in Dubai and Abu Dhabi this weekend: what you need to know

From the number of people who can gather in a home to what travellers must do before a flight, each week, 'The National' sets out what the current rules are across the emirates

As cases of Covid-19 rise around the globe, the UAE is working to keep pace with developments and adjust regulations accordingly to ensure people are kept safe while economic activity resumes.

Rules can vary slightly in each emirate. Here is The National's weekly update on what regulations are at present.

How many people can sit at a single table in a restaurant?

In Abu Dhabi, only four people can sit at a single table at a restaurant. The only exception is for children, who can sit at the same table as their family. Larger groups will be split into tables of four, spaced two metres apart.

In Dubai, the number of people who can sit together in a restaurant was reduced from 10 to seven on Friday.

The emirate's Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management introduced a number of changes to help crack down on the spread of Covid-19, including limiting the number of people sitting together in a cafe to four.

What are the rules at a beach club or swimming pool?

Swimming pools and beach clubs opened across the Emirates over the summer. Loungers are spaced two metres apart and capacity limits are in place to prevent crowding.

Visitors must wear face masks at all times except when swimming. Masks must be put back on to walk around.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, July 28, 2020. Visitors arrive on the first day of the reopening of Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National Section: NA Reporter:
People visit Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi, in July after the theme park reopened to the public again. Victor Besa / The National

Are entertainment venues like amusement parks open? What are the rules there?

Waterparks and other amusement parks have all reopened. All have reduced capacity to prevent crowding on rides. Hand sanitiser stations and face masks are mandatory.

Visitors must pass through a thermal scanner on entry and sanitising stations are set up across the venue.

At regular theme parks, visitors must wear a face mask at all times, regularly sanitise their hands and avoid gathering in groups. Fabric masks, rather than disposable masks, are recommended because some rides do not allow disposable masks.

At water parks in Abu Dhabi, a quick-dry mask is handed out free for use between rides.

Young people party on a yacht in Dubai Marina in January, 2021. Teachers were urged to socialise responsibly after the recent surge in daily coronavirus cases. Kamran Jebreili / AP
Tourists party on a yacht in Dubai Marina on January, 12 2021. Kamran Jebreili / AP

Are boat parties legal?

As of June last year, excursion boats, personal and commercial yachts were allowed to operate with a capacity limit of 50 per cent, to ensure physical distancing.

Jet skis are also back in use but even two-person water crafts are limited to just one individual at a time.

Boat operators and those on board must follow precautionary measures that are in place to limit the spread of the virus. Random inspections will be carried out to ensure operators follow guidelines.

In October, Dubai Police issued a Dh10,000 fine to an airline pilot who hosted a yacht party which breached Covid-19 safety measures.

The force said as many as 25 people gathered on the vessel, with guests ignoring social distancing rules and failing to wear masks.

When can someone remove their face mask?

Wearing face masks in public is mandatory throughout the UAE with Dh3,000 fines for anyone who does not comply.

People should keep their face masks on while in public whenever possible to protect yourself against infection. However, there are occasions when you can take it off without risk of being fined, for example, when at a restaurant or at the pool. You are expected to put your mask on when walking around a restaurant or a beach club but can, of course, take it back off to eat or go swimming.

In Dubai, people are allowed to remove their mask when exercising alone outdoors. In Abu Dhabi, people have to wear their masks while exercising, but can lower them if feeling unwell at any point to catch their breath.

Dubai residents exercise along the promenade in Dubai Marina. Antonie Robertson / The National
Dubai residents exercise along the promenade in Dubai Marina. Antonie Robertson / The National

What are the rules at hotels?

Some hotels were briefly closed last year amid a global halt on international travel to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

They have since reopened with safety measures in place. These include mandatory use of face masks, physical distancing and reduced capacities.

Buffets and brunches, which were briefly ceased, have since resumed but with partitions in place and staff on hand to serve food to prevent potential contamination.

Restaurants require reservations, more so than before the pandemic, as spaces are limited with tables kept two metres apart.

In Dubai the minimum distance between tables was also increased on Friday from two to three metres.

The facilities are frequently sanitised to ensure the safety of guests.

The new rules govern entertainment and serving hours in bars and restaurants. Pawan Singh / The National
The new rules govern entertainment and serving hours in bars and restaurants. Pawan Singh / The National

Is live entertainment allowed?

On Thursday, hotels and restaurants in Dubai were told to halt all live entertainment in their venues because of a surge in Covid-19 cases. The directive from Dubai Tourism, which affects performances by DJs, dancers and bands, came after a rise in the number of breaches found during inspections.

This does not mean that licensed bars and restaurants must close or stop serving diners, rather they must just cease any live entertainment.

How many people are allowed in a car?

Only three people can travel in the same car, including the driver, if they are not from the same family.

If they are from the same family, you can have more than three people in one car.

As soon as more than one person is in a vehicle, face masks must be worn.

Rules on public transport are a little different. Face masks must be worn at all times and some seats will be blocked off to ensure physical distancing.

No more than three people are allowed in regular taxis but up to four are allowed to travel in a Dubai Taxi van, which can be booked through the Careem app.

How many of people are allowed to gather in a house?

In Abu Dhabi, up to 10 people are allowed to gather but they must adhere to specific health and safety measures. These include wearing face masks and remaining at least two metres apart.

A fine of Dh10,000 will be imposed on anyone who hosts, invites or organises social gatherings, meetings, private and public celebrations that exceed this number. Participants also face fines of Dh5,000 each.

In Dubai, authorities allowed up to 30 people to gather on New Year's Eve.

However, that all changed on Friday when authorities announced no more than 10 people could attend a social event, wedding or private party and must be a first-degree relative, whether at home or at a hotel.

Party hosts who exceeded the capped number of guests faced fines of Dh50,000, while guests were hit with fines of Dh15,000 each.

Safety regulations governed these gatherings with mandatory use of face masks, anyone experiencing symptoms of sickness barred from attending and a rule of one person per four square metres of venue space. The elderly and people with chronic illnesses were advised not to attend. It is unclear if this is still the maximum number of people allowed at a private gathering. Previously, no more than 20 people could gather in a household.

Dubai allows up to 200 people to attend a wedding at a commercial venue, provided safety regulations are met.

A medic speaks to a commuter before he undergoes a rapid DPI test, which identifies if the body is fighting a virus, on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi border. Leslie Pableo for The National
A medic speaks to a commuter before he undergoes a rapid DPI test, which identifies if the body is fighting a virus, on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi border. Leslie Pableo for The National

What tests are needed if travelling between Abu Dhabi and another emirate?

People entering Abu Dhabi must present a negative PCR or DPI test result received within the past 48 hours to cross into the emirate.

If they remain in the capital for longer than four consecutive days, they must take a PCR test on day four. If remaining in Abu Dhabi for longer than eight days, a second PCR test must be taken on day eight.

If spending only a day or two in the emirate, another test is not needed.

What happens if someone comes into contact with another person who tested positive for Covid-19?

Rules vary slightly from emirate to emirate. Typically, health authorities will call you in for testing and then advise you to self-isolate for 10 days. In Abu Dhabi, you are required to wear a tracking bracelet and must test again on day eight before it can be removed.

Which vaccines are available in the UAE?

Three vaccines are available in the UAE. Sinopharm and Sputnik V are available across the UAE, although the latter is only for emergency use.

Pfizer-BioNTech is available in Dubai. Currently, specific priority groups are being vaccinated in Dubai with plans for a wider programme later in the year.

All are free and administered on a voluntary basis.

If someone is fully vaccinated, what exemptions are they eligible for?

People who received their second dose of a vaccine at least 28 days ago are considered "fully vaccinated". To activate eligibility for exemptions, a PCR test is needed. This will prompt a circled E to appear on an individual's Al Hosn app.

Once this appears, the carrier no longer needs a DPI or PCR test result to enter Abu Dhabi. They will not need to quarantine after travelling to Abu Dhabi from a green country and need quarantine for only five days if exposed to someone with Covid-19.

A tourist at Dubai airport takes a selfie before he gets screened for Covid-19. AFP
A tourist takes a selfie before getting a medical screening on arrival at Dubai airport. Giuseppe Cacae / AFP

What needs to be done if travelling abroad?

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, a PCR test prior to departure is not needed, unless the destination requires it.

When travelling from Abu Dhabi with Etihad, a PCR test is mandatory before departure, regardless of the destination. This will need to be carried out between 48, 72 or 96 hours ahead of flight departure time depending on the destination. The test result should be in the language mandated by the government of the destination country.

The result must be printed out and presented at check-in. A medical certificate or other relevant document, clearly stating the type of test and the result, must also be presented at check-in.

Are tourists allowed in the UAE?

Yes. Dubai was among the first global destinations to reopen in July, with stringent safety measures in place. A negative PCR test result, received within 96 hours from the scheduled flight departure time, is required to enter Dubai for tourists from all but six countries. Visitors from some countries will be tested again on arrival.

Last month, Abu Dhabi announced international tourists would be welcomed back to the capital. Travellers will need to present a negative PCR test result received within 96 hours of their scheduled departure, as previously stated.

They must undergo a second PCR test on landing in Abu Dhabi.

Travellers from green countries must self-isolate until they receive a negative result from the PCR test taken on landing.

Travellers from non-green list countries will be tested on landing and must self-isolate with a tracker bracelet for 10 days. They must undergo another PCR test on day eight before the tracker is removed.

Updated: January 24, 2021 09:43 AM

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