People in Abu Dhabi who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 now require weekly PCR tests to be eligible for travel exemptions.
On Sunday, the capital's crisis and disasters committee updated the rules for vaccinated people, covering international travel, quarantine and procedures for exposure to a positive case. The updates are effective from Sunday.
What has changed?
The changes apply to volunteers who took part in the phase 3 clinical vaccine trials and people who received the jab in the ongoing national vaccination drive.
To be eligible for the exemptions an individual must have an active icon on their Al Hosn app.
For volunteers, this is a yellow star, which remains active after a volunteer has had both doses of the vaccine and taken a PCR test.
For other vaccinated people, the icon appears in the app as a circled E. It appears after the person has had both doses of the vaccine, waited 28 days and then taken a PCR test.
The icon for both volunteers and vaccinated people remains active for one week before disappearing. Another PCR test is needed to reactivate the icon and the exemptions that come with it.
How do these changes affect rules for international travel?
Vaccinated people arriving from green listed countries require a PCR test on arrival, as well as another on day six in the emirate. They will not need to quarantine.
If arriving from a non-green country, a PCR test is required on arrival and again on day eight and the vaccinated traveller must quarantine for 10 days.
All travellers, vaccinated or not, must present a negative PCR test received within 96 hours of their scheduled departure. They must also undergo a PCR test on landing.
Unvaccinated travellers from green countries will not need to quarantine either, under Covid-19 safety measures announced last month. They must, however, self-isolate until they receive a negative result from the PCR test taken on landing.
Travellers who have not been vaccinated and intend to stay in Abu Dhabi longer than six consecutive days must undergo a PCR test on day six, and on day 12, if they remain in the emirate for at least 12 consecutive days.
What if a vaccinated person is exposed to Covid-19?
If a vaccinated person comes into contact with someone who has Covid-19, they must quarantine for five days and undergo a PCR test on day four. If the result is negative, the quarantine ends.
Unvaccinated people who are exposed to someone with Covid-19 must quarantine for 10 days and undergo a PCR test on day eight. If the result is negative, the quarantine ends.
What are the rules for travel between emirates?
An unvaccinated person entering Abu Dhabi from another emirate requires a negative DPI or PCR test result received within 48 hours.
Unvaccinated people must also undergo a PCR test on days four and eight from the date of entry, if spending at least eight consecutive days in Abu Dhabi.
People who are vaccinated, and have an active icon on their Al Hosn app, can enter and remain in Abu Dhabi without need for additional testing.
Why have the changes been made?
Reasons for the changes were not disclosed by authorities. But new cases on Sunday were the highest recorded in a single day to date, for the sixth consecutive day.
Another 3,453 cases of coronavirus were reported, raising the total number of active cases to 27,142, the highest since the outbreak began.
Three weeks ago, daily cases were around 1,000 but numbers shot up after the winter break, when more people travelled.
As more people are immunised, it is important to remember that the two vaccinations available in the UAE do not prevent an individual from carrying and spreading the virus. Similarly, no vaccine is 100 per cent effective.
While the vaccines do protect people from severe sickness, they can still contract the virus and pass it on to others. This is why authorities insist that even vaccinated people continue to wear face masks, practise physical distancing and avoid gatherings.