All travellers who enter the UAE must undergo 14 days of mandatory self-quarantine or risk legal action, the country's attorney general said on Wednesday.
Hamad Al Shamsi said ignoring precautionary measures put in place to limit the spread of coronavirus - including quarantine - is a punishable crime.
New arrivals must now quarantine for a fortnight from the date of arrival and follow orders from the authorities.
The move marks a significant development as until now airport authorities have waived arrivals through with only advice to self-quarantine if they have been in an outbreak zone.
Anyone caught breaking quarantine by leaving their home and coming into contact with others, putting them at risk of contracting the virus, would be prosecuted, he said.
The order is based on a law introduced five years ago that criminalises anyone found to be carelessly or deliberately spreading disease or harming public health.
Officials did not state whether residents are allowed to leave home to shop for essentials, but have previously urged people to use home deliveries when possible.
Dr Al Shamsi called on all Emiratis and residents to abide by instructions, in the interest of their safety and the safety of others, reported state news agency Wam.
The UAE has introduced wide-ranging, strict measures to limit public and private gatherings to contain the spread of Covid-19.
These include closing tourist sites, cinemas and gyms, limiting travel and calling off events.
The UAE has reported 113 cases of coronavirus since January. Of these, 26 have recovered. As of Tuesday, the Emirates had tested more than 127,000 people for the disease.