Coronavirus: Abu Dhabi plans to remove most restrictions within two weeks

All economic, tourism, cultural and entertainment activities will return to the capital

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Abu Dhabi plans to lift most coronavirus restrictions within two weeks, the authorities announced.

The emirate will resume “all economic, tourism, cultural and entertainment activities” within that period, Abu Dhabi Emergency Crisis and Disasters Committee said.

The decision was made after "the success of efforts made to maintain a low percentage of confirmed cases per total tests conducted in the emirate", the government press office said.

The percentage of confirmed cases per total tests in the three months to November was 0.39 per cent.

Police officials said there were no plans yet to stop checks at the border, where drivers entering from Dubai must present a negative PCR nasal swab test.

Abu Dhabi routinely and regularly tests large numbers of people, with workplace screening in place at many government and private offices, as well as shops, hotels and restaurants.

The authorities said regular testing to identify cases would continue, even as the restrictions were relaxed, including in high density areas, industrial zones, and shopping malls and restaurants every two weeks.

The news came as the UAE officially registered China's Sinopharm vaccine for use after Phase 3 trials found it was 86 per cent effective against coronavirus.

The Ministry of Health on Wednesday said it had approved a request from the Chinese drug maker for its inactivated Covid-19 vaccine "in a major step towards combating the global pandemic".

An analysis showed the vaccine had 100 per cent effectiveness in "preventing moderate and severe cases of the disease".

"Furthermore, the analysis shows no serious safety concerns", it said.

The UAE shut shops, cancelled events and briefly closed its airspace in March after the extent of the global spread of Covid-19 became apparent.

Nationwide mask-wearing and social-distancing requirements were imposed to slow the spread of the disease.

And a system was put in place to arrange for the return of residents who became stuck overseas.

Dubai reopened for tourists in the summer, but Abu Dhabi only recently began issuing tourist visas on arrival at the airport again.

People arriving at Abu Dhabi International Airport must isolate for 14 days. The period is monitored with the use of wristbands.

It is not immediately clear whether these restrictions will be included in the relaxation of measures.