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

Face masks will no longer be mandatory in most public areas from September 28

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Face masks are no longer mandatory in all indoor public places, the UAE's crisis authority has said.

People will be required to wear masks only in places of worship, hospitals and on public transport from Wednesday, September 28.

The decision was announced in a televised briefing on Monday.

The use of masks in indoor public places has been in effect for two and a half years.

The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (Ncema) are in effect nationwide.

In other key decisions, officials said:

— Schools will not require teachers or pupils to wear face masks

— People will be able to visit malls, supermarkets, hotels, bars and restaurants without being required to wear a mask

— Covid-19 home isolation period reduced from 10 days to five

— Airlines are to decide on whether or not masks are obligatory

Abu Dhabi residents will be required to have tests once every 30 days to keep Al Hosn app green. It was every 14 days previously

— Only the person who tests positive for Covid-19 will be required to quarantine, not someone who has been in close contact with them

— The number of daily Covid cases will no longer be published by the government

Until now, people had to wear a mask until they were seated or eating in a cafe or restaurant.

Face masks have been central to local and international efforts to save lives and reduce infections.

For much of the pandemic, people in the UAE were mandated to wear face coverings in both indoor and outdoor settings.

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

In Abu Dhabi quarantine for close contacts of positive cases has also not been required since February, but people were still advised to take a PCR test daily for five consecutive days.

In Dubai, close contacts of positive cases who are not experiencing any symptoms do not have to quarantine, and no PCR testing is required.

The decision to drop face mask rules altogether is among the most significant easings of restrictions since April 2020, when the pandemic spread around the Middle East and the globe.

Cases in the UAE have been steadily dropping and have reached a daily level of between 300 and 400 positive test results.

In June, the UAE reached a significant milestone in its Covid-19 vaccine drive, with “100 per cent of the target groups in the country” being vaccinated.

To date, around 25 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered.

In November last year, health authorities announced that 100 per cent of eligible people had received their first dose.

Nearly three years since first case in UAE

The first Covid-19 case in the UAE was announced on January 20, 2020.

Since then, the Emirates has recorded more than a million cases and 2,343 deaths.

During the early weeks and months of the pandemic, stay-at-home measures and deep-cleaning operations were introduced.

Offices and schools closed as a precautionary measure and flights were grounded.

Authorities also introduced physical distance rules and made the wearing of face masks in public mandatory.

On December 9, 2020, the UAE approved Sinopharm’s vaccine.

Less than two weeks later, Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine was approved for people over the age of 18. Authorities later gave the green light to other vaccines, including Oxford-AstraZeneca, Sputnik V and Moderna. In March 2021, the UAE started rolling out booster shots, initially to a small number of people and later to all, urging everyone to receive a third dose six months after their second.

The UAE was regularly featured at the top of world rankings on how well countries were managing Covid-19, while at the same time reopening their economies.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, then Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, declared in October that the UAE had “overcome the Covid-19 crisis” and called on people to return to normality.

Updated: September 27, 2022, 6:06 AM