Supermarket giant Lulu to offer free on-site PCR testing at Abu Dhabi malls

Testing will be available one day a week at venues including Mushrif, Al Wahda and Al Raha malls

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A major retailer plans within days to roll out free on-site PCR testing for residents at several malls in Abu Dhabi.

After the green pass system went live at public venues across the capital on Tuesday, Lulu Group said it was working to set up weekly testing spaces outside its malls.

V Nandakumar, communications director at Lulu, told The National the PCR tests will be free and available by appointment only.

“The Al Hosn green pass system was activated yesterday so we wanted to add a service that would lessen the burden for our customers,” he said.

We think it will ease the financial side of having to pay for regular testing

"The validity of the green pass is 30 days for fully vaccinated residents, so the plan is to conduct weekly testing – for example every Wednesday – so if shoppers are nearing their 30-day expiry, they can get it done then and there.

“We think it will ease the financial side of having to pay for regular testing and it will also mean our customers do not have to travel to a specific site to get the PCR test done."

Mr Nandakumar said the company was in talks with a health service provider and confirmed that the service would go live within “the next few days”.

With about 12 malls in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi, the group plans to introduce testing stations at its major venues.

The well-publicised Al Hosn 'green status' roll out on Tuesday was largely smooth, though long lines were reported in some malls as security guards and shoppers got to grips with the system.

Several malls acknowledged that some people were turned away. The app requires a small amount of phone data to load up and can only work on a smartphone.

Lulu's malls include Al Wahda Mall, Mushrif Mall and Khalidiya Mall in central Abu Dhabi, as well as Al Raha Mall, Mazyad Mall and Forsan Central Mall on the outskirts.

"We are still fine tuning the main details but the plan is to have all-day testing, one day a week, in select malls," Mr Nandakumar said.

"We will adhere to all the strict Covid-19 guidelines and plan to manage the daily testing numbers and social distancing, by introducing appointments.

“They can be booked on the Lulu mobile application and on other Lulu platforms," he said.

"We will announce full details soon and look forward to offering this free-of-charge service to our customers.”

Under new rules introduced by the government on Tuesday, people in Abu Dhabi have to prove they have been screened for Covid-19 to visit many public places in the city, including malls, public parks, beaches and gyms.

Under the green pass system, members of the public will be asked to show their status on the Al Hosn app before entering venues.

To obtain a green pass people must be vaccinated and/or tested for Covid-19.

If you have been fully vaccinated for at least 28 days and have a negative PCR test, your green pass will be active for 30 days.

For those who received their second dose less than 28 days earlier, a negative PCR test result will give green status for 14 days.

For people who have received their first dose and are waiting for their second dose appointment, a negative PCR test result will give green status for seven days.

The same rules apply for people who are medically exempt from getting the vaccine.

People who are not vaccinated but have a negative PCR test will get green status for three days only.