Coronavirus: UAE outlines new travel restrictions for residents this summer

People planning to travel abroad must apply for a permit before departing

Abu Dhabi and the Northern Emirates will not accept inbound tourists at the moment, and residents looking to travel abroad this summer need prior approval. Courtesy: Etihad
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New restrictions will be imposed on residents travelling abroad this summer, the UAE's federal crisis authority said.

Anyone planning an overseas trip must first apply for a permit from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA).

Approval would be granted based on the level of risk in your destination country and the purpose of the journey.

Recent travel decisions have excluded Dubai, which has its own crisis authority and immigration service and which will accept inbound tourists from July 7. Officials were contacted on Thursday to clarify the situation.

We are at a very critical stage we need commitment and co-operation from everyone

Dr Saif Al Dhaheri, spokesman for the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (Ncema), said exemptions would be granted for people travelling for study, medical treatment, diplomacy or business.

Exemptions could be available for UAE residents who wish to visit their home country and return to the Emirates.

Travellers would need to take a PCR Covid-19 test within 48 hours of leaving the UAE and present a certificate proving they were clear before boarding. Passengers must also fill in a health declaration form.

Dr Al Dhaheri strongly advised against travelling to high-risk countries and said special permission must be sought for those nations.

On returning to the UAE, travellers must take another coronavirus test and isolate themselves for two weeks.

Anyone who does not adhere to the quarantine will face legal action.

“Travellers must monitor themselves throughout their flight and, if they feel unwell, go to the medical centre in the airport at your destination, where you should use your international health insurance,” he said.

Emiratis must also contact the nearest UAE embassy when they arrive at their destination.

People returning to the UAE from low-risk countries may only need to isolate themselves for seven days after landing.

“These are national guidelines that must be carried out ahead of travel," Dr Al Dhaheri said.

"We are at a very critical stage we need commitment and co-operation from everyone. All national airlines are implementing the travel protocol for each destination."

At Wednesday night's briefing, officials announced 402 new cases of Covid-19, raising the country’s total to 49,069.

About 62,028 more tests were carried out, said Dr Amna Al Dhahak, a spokeswoman for the government.

That took the total number of coronavirus screenings to more than 3.5 million tests.

Dr Al Dhahak said 594 patients were cleared of the virus, raising the recovery tally to 38,160.

The average daily recoveries increased from 500 in May to 654 in June. There is also a drop in daily infections from 712 in May to 470 in June.

The UAE’s death toll from the pandemic now stands at 316, after one patient died of the virus on Wednesday. The number of patients still battling Covid-19 was 10,593.

The figures were released on the day on which places of worship and gyms reopened.

Dr Al Dhahak said the UAE’s regular briefings would no longer be held twice a week, but only when major announcements were to be made.

She said economic and social activities had mostly been resumed but the responsibility was on the public to adhere to safety measures to prevent a surge in cases.

“We must not waste away these achievements and must maintain them to have a complete recovery, God willing,” Dr Al Dhahak said.

“If there is no compliance, the outcome will be negative. Significant steps and measures still need to be taken in the coming period. Let us protect ourselves and our families.”

Salem Al Zaabi, acting director of the Federal Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Prosecution, displayed photos and names of people who had been caught flouting the rules and were fined.

“Some people are failing to wear masks and are behaving recklessly, which will have a negative impact and will prompt stricter measures,” Mr Al Zaabi said.

“We urge all individuals to comply with precautionary measures. Authorities want to create a balance of resuming social and economic activities and keeping people safe.

“Let us all be responsible.”

Some people are failing to wear masks and are behaving recklessly, which will have a negative impact and will prompt stricter measures

On Wednesday, the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, or Seha, extended opening hours for its screening centres across the emirates.

Eight centres, including the drive-through sites, all operated by Seha, will now also test people for the virus on Fridays and Saturdays.

Daily opening hours have been extended to between 10am and 8pm to increase testing capacity.

The centres include those in City Walk, Mina Rashid and Al Khawaneej in Dubai, as well as those in Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.

Officials in Abu Dhabi also announced that people from other emirates could enter the capital, provided they could present a medical certificate showing they were not infected with Covid-19.

The test results are valid for entry to Abu Dhabi for 48 hours.

The Seha screening centres were built across the country in March, on the orders of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.