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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 25 February 2021

Latest Covid-19 rules in Dubai and Abu Dhabi: what you need to know

From the number of people who can gather in a home to what travellers must do before a flight, each week, 'The National' sets out what the current rules are across the emirates

As cases of Covid-19 rise around the globe, the UAE is working to keep pace with developments and adjust regulations accordingly to ensure people are kept safe while economic activity resumes.

Rules can vary slightly in each emirate. Here is The National's weekly update on what regulations are as of February 18, 2021.

Here are the Covid-19 rules in Dubai:

Restrictions in Dubai tightened over the past few weeks after cases sharply increased across the country

  • Brunches are suspended to prevent social gatherings
  • Capacity limits in malls, hotels, beaches and pools are reduced to 70 per cent
  • Capacity at indoor seated venues, such as cinemas, is capped at 50 per cent
  • Restaurants and cafes must close at 1am
  • The number of people who can sit at one table was reduced from 10 to seven for restaurants and four at cafes
  • Any licensed venue classed as a “pub or bar” but that is not a restaurant is also closed
  • Live music and entertainment are suspended across the emirate
  • Face masks are mandatory in public and in private gatherings and people are required to maintain physical distance from others
  • Private gatherings are limited to first-degree relatives – a person’s parents, siblings and children will be allowed – and no more than 10 people can attend

Read more: Dubai to cut mall and venue capacity, hotel occupancy and shut bars

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: Anam Rizvi. News. Covid-19/Coronavirus. I sign on a shop door tells people to obey Covid-19 rules. Sunday, February 14th, 2021. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
A sign on a shop door in Dubai tells people to obey Covid-19 rules. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Here are the Covid-19 rules in Abu Dhabi:

Abu Dhabi has also brought in increased measures since the beginning of the year.

  • Diners are limited to just four per table, even for family members living in the same home
  • Malls are limited to 40 per cent capacity
  • Restaurants, cafes, hotels and public beaches and parks cannot have more than 60 per cent of their typical visitors to avoid crowding
  • Gyms as well as private beaches and swimming pools cannot be more than half full
  • Cinemas have been closed
  • Public transport, such as taxis and buses, have been limited to 45 per cent and 75 per cent capacity, respectively
  • Up to 10 family members can gather together but they must wear face masks and remain at least two metres apart
  • Parties and other social gatherings have been banned
  • Entry to Abu Dhabi requires either a DPI or PCR test taken within a certain time of travel to the emirate from another part of the country
  • A DPI test result is valid for 24 hours to enter Abu Dhabi but cannot be used to enter Abu Dhabi on two consecutive occasions. If the individual stays in Abu Dhabi for more than 48 hours will have to take PCR test on day 3 of entry, and a second PCR on day seven, if they remain in the emirate for a week or more. The day of entry to Abu Dhabi is considered day one
  • A PCR test result must be received within 48 hours of entry into the capital. If the person stays in Abu Dhabi for four days or more, they must take another PCR test on day four and day eight
Pedestrians wearing protective masks walk through the La Mer development, operated by Meraas Holding LLC, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. Dubai replaced its top health official on Sunday after coronavirus cases in the United Arab Emirates, of which it is part, spiked in recent weeks. Photographer: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg
Pedestrians wear protective masks as they walk through La Mer in Dubai. Christopher Pike / Bloomberg

How many people can sit at a single table in a restaurant?

In Abu Dhabi, only four people can sit at a single table at a restaurant. The only exception is for children, who can sit at the same table as their family. Larger groups will be split into tables of four, spaced two metres apart.

In Dubai, seven people can sit together at a restaurant. This is reduced from 10 last week. The number of people that can sit together in a cafe is now four. The emirate's Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management said restaurants and cafes must now close by 1am and cannot organise any entertainment activities.

What are the rules at a beach club or swimming pool?

Swimming pools and beach clubs opened across the Emirates over the summer. Loungers are spaced two metres apart and capacity limits are in place to prevent crowding.

Visitors must wear face masks at all times except when swimming. Masks must be put back on to walk around.

A picture taken on January 22, 2021 shows Atlantis The Palm hotel from La Mer Beach in Dubai. Dubai clamped down on its entertainment scene and suspended non-essential surgery in hospitals after a spike in coronavirus cases in the UAE as the glitzy emirate stays open to tourists. One of the seven emirates that make up the UAE, Dubai has branded itself this winter as an open, sunny and quarantine-free escape. But Covid-19 infections have surged since the New Year and the UAE registered a daily record of 3,529 new cases on Thursday, a new high for the 10th consecutive day. / AFP / GIUSEPPE CACACE
Atlantis The Palm hotel from La Mer Beach in Dubai. Giuseppe Cacace / AFP

Have all brunches been cancelled?

Brunches in Dubai have been suspended as authorities further tighten the rules on social gatherings.

Dubai Tourism singled out brunches – which typically have all-you-can-eat-and-drink deals and entertainment – in an email to hotels and restaurants.

The authority told managers to “postpone any activity that leads to large gatherings such as weekend brunches”.

Although “brunches” are now off the menu, special offers and set fees for meals and alcoholic drinks were not specifically ruled out.

On Wednesday, hotels and bars told The National they were still taking orders for scaled back “set deals” this weekend, and would have various distancing measures in place to ensure compliance.

Are boat parties legal?

Last week, tours or parties on yachts in Dubai were restricted to 10 people. Previously, vessels were allowed to sail with 50 per cent capacity.

Boat operators and those on board must follow precautionary measures in place to limit the spread of the virus. Random inspections will be carried out to ensure operators follow guidelines.

Jet ski use is limited to just one individual at a time.

Are entertainment venues like amusement parks open? What are the rules there?

Water parks and other amusement parks have all reopened. All have reduced capacity to prevent crowding on rides. Hand sanitiser stations and face masks are mandatory.

Visitors must pass through a thermal scanner on entry and sanitising stations are set up across the venue.

At regular theme parks, visitors must wear a face mask at all times, regularly sanitise their hands and avoid gathering in groups. Fabric masks, rather than disposable masks, are recommended because some rides do not allow disposable masks.

At water parks in Abu Dhabi, a quick-dry mask is handed out free for use between rides.

A lifeguard cleans one of the tubes at Dubai's Wild Wadi Waterpark as a Covid-19 safety measure. Chris Whiteoak / The National
A lifeguard sanitises a pool float at Wild Wadi in Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

What are the rules at hotels?

Some hotels were briefly closed last year amid a global halt on international travel.

They have since reopened with safety measures in place. These include mandatory use of face masks, physical distancing and reduced capacities.

Buffets and brunches, which were briefly ceased, have since resumed, apart from in Dubai, but with partitions in place and staff on hand to serve food to prevent potential contamination.

Restaurants require reservations, more so than before the pandemic, because space is limited with tables kept two metres apart.

In Dubai, the minimum distance between tables was increased from two to three metres. Occupancy at hotels in Dubai cannot exceed 70 per cent of their total capacity.

The facilities are frequently sanitised to ensure the safety of guests.

Are public parks still open? What about gyms?

Public parks and beaches remain open but, in Abu Dhabi, have been capped to 60 per cent capacity.

Gyms in Abu Dhabi have had their capacities reduced to half to ensure visitors are correctly distanced from others.

In Dubai, gyms and fitness centres have brought in new safety measures in a bid to cut the chance of coronavirus spreading among clients. Exercise classes have reduced capacity, equipment has been removed and some managers have made mask-wearing was mandatory, even when undertaking strenuous exercise.

The new rules govern entertainment and serving hours in bars and restaurants. Pawan Singh / The National
The new rules govern entertainment and serving hours in bars and restaurants. Pawan Singh / The National

Is live entertainment allowed?

Hotels and restaurants in Dubai have halted all live entertainment in their venues because of a surge in Covid-19 cases. The directive from Dubai Tourism, which affects performances by DJs, dancers and bands, came after a rise in the number of breaches found during inspections.

This does not mean that licensed restaurants must close or stop serving diners, rather they must just cease any live entertainment.

When can someone remove their face mask?

Wearing face masks in public is mandatory throughout the UAE with Dh3,000 fines for anyone who does not comply.

People should keep their face masks on while in public whenever possible to protect themselves against infection. However, there are occasions when you can take it off without risk of being fined, for example, when at a restaurant or at the pool. You are expected to put your mask on when walking around a restaurant or a beach club but can, of course, take it off to eat or go swimming.

In Dubai, people are allowed to remove their mask when exercising alone outdoors. In Abu Dhabi, people have to wear their masks while exercising, but can lower them if feeling unwell at any point to catch their breath.

Use of face masks outdoors or around others is mandatory in Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National 
Use of face masks outdoors or around others is mandatory in Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National 

How many of people are allowed to gather in a house?

In Abu Dhabi, up to 10 family members are allowed to gather but they must adhere to specific health and safety measures. These include wearing face masks and remaining at least two metres apart. Parties and other social gatherings have been banned.

A fine of Dh10,000 will be imposed on anyone who hosts, invites or organises social gatherings, meetings, private and public celebrations that exceed this number. Participants also face fines of Dh5,000 each.

Up to 20 people can attend funerals and mourning services while up to 10 can attend marriage ceremonies.

In Dubai, attendance at social events, including weddings and private parties, is limited to only first-degree relatives – a person’s parents, siblings and children will be allowed – and no more than 10 people can attend.

The ruling, which started on January 27, applies to events in hotels as well as gatherings in homes and comes after a high number of incidents of non-compliance with precautionary and preventive measures.

How many people are allowed in a car?

Only three people can travel in the same car, including the driver, if they are not from the same family.

If they are from the same family, you can have more than three people in one car.

As soon as more than one person is in a vehicle, face masks must be worn.

Rules on public transport are a little different. Face masks must be worn at all times and some seats will be blocked off to ensure physical distancing.

No more than three people are allowed in regular taxis but up to four are allowed to travel in a Dubai Taxi van, which can be booked through the Careem app.

Eighteen new 24-hour DPI testing stations have been opened on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi border. Chris Whiteoak/The National
Eighteen new 24-hour DPI testing stations have been opened on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi border. Chris Whiteoak/The National

Eighteen new 24-hour DPI testing stations have been opened on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi border. Chris Whiteoak/The National
Eighteen new 24-hour DPI testing stations have been opened on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi border. Chris Whiteoak/The National

Can I take a bus or taxi between Abu Dhabi and Dubai?

Yes, intercity buses have resumed services and taxi drivers can travel between emirates. Passengers will need to undergo the appropriate testing to enter Abu Dhabi.

In Abu Dhabi, buses can carry 75 per cent of their typical passenger capacity while taxis have been limited to 45 per cent.

What tests are needed if travelling between Abu Dhabi and another emirate?

People require either a negative PCR of DPI test to enter the capital.

The PCR test result must be received within 48 hours of entry into Abu Dhabi. If the individual stays in the emirate for four days or more, they must take another PCR test on day 4 and day 8.

Entry is allowed into the emirate within 24 hours of receiving a negative DPI test result. DPI tests results are available within minutes but cannot be used to enter Abu Dhabi on two consecutive occasions.

People who enter the capital after showing a negative DPI test and stay for more than 48 hours will have to take PCR test on day 3 of entry, and a second one on day 7, if they remain in the emirate for a week or more.

An electronic wristband is fitted to a patient at the coronavirus centre at Adnec in Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National 
An electronic wristband is fitted to a patient at the coronavirus centre at Adnec in Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National 

What happens if someone comes into contact with another person who tested positive for Covid-19?

Rules vary slightly from emirate to emirate. Typically, health authorities will call you in for testing and then advise you to self-isolate for 10 days. In Abu Dhabi, you are required to wear a tracking bracelet and must test again on day eight before it can be removed.

In Dubai, authorities said anyone who is in contact for 15 minutes with someone who has Covid-19 must quarantine at home for 10 days.

Government workers have been told that if they are not vaccinated and must isolate for any reason, and cannot work from home, that their annual leave days will be used.

What do I do if I test positive for Covid-19?

If the individual is in Abu Dhabi, they will receive a text message directing them to report to Mafraq Hospital, near Baniyas, to undergo another PCR test. If that result is also positive, they must return to the hospital the next day to be fitted with a tracker watch to ensure they quarantine at home for at least 10 days. If the person has mild symptoms, they will quarantine normally at home, undergo a PCR test on day eight at home and have their tracker removed on the tenth day.

People with stronger symptoms will under a medical check up and be seen by a doctor.

In Dubai, people with mild cases of Covid-19 must isolate at home for 10 days. If a patient develops stronger symptoms, they must contact the Dubai Health Authority (800 342) for advice.

Across the UAE, people with Covid-19 must report their infection to the Ministry of Health and Prevention (800 11111), if they have not already received a message from authorities indicating they are aware.

Those who do not will face a prison sentence and a fine of between Dh10,000 and Dh50,000.

Which vaccines are available in the UAE?

Four vaccines are available in the UAE. Sinopharm and Sputnik V are available across the UAE, although the latter is only for emergency use.

Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca are available in Dubai. Currently, specific priority groups are being vaccinated in Dubai with plans for a wider programme later in the year.

All are free and administered on a voluntary basis.

Currently, priority is being given to the elderly and people with chronic diseases or a disability but anyone who has already taken their first dose and has the second scheduled will still receive their inoculation.

Abu Dhabi government-operated centres are only administering vaccines during the week.

A placard informs the public of the location of a designated Covid-19 vaccination centre in Dubai's financial centre district. Vaccination is a key part of UAE efforts to curb th the spread of Covid-19. AFP 
A placard informs the public of the location of a designated Covid-19 vaccination centre in Dubai's financial centre district. Vaccination is a key part of UAE efforts to curb th the spread of Covid-19. AFP 

If someone is fully vaccinated, what exemptions are they eligible for?

People who received their second dose of a vaccine at least 28 days ago are considered "fully vaccinated". To activate eligibility for exemptions, a PCR test is needed. This will prompt a circled E to appear on an individual's Al Hosn app.

Once this appears, the carrier no longer needs a DPI or PCR test result to enter Abu Dhabi. They will not need to quarantine after travelling to Abu Dhabi from a green country and need quarantine for only five days if exposed to someone with Covid-19.

What needs to be done if travelling abroad?

If travelling from the UAE, passengers must check the requirements of the country they are travelling to because these change frequently.

When travelling from Dubai with Emirates, a PCR test prior to departure is not needed, unless the destination requires it.

When travelling from Abu Dhabi with Etihad, a PCR test is mandatory before departure, regardless of the destination. This will need to be carried out between 48, 72 or 96 hours ahead of flight departure time depending on the destination. The test result should be in the language mandated by the government of the destination country.

The result must be printed out and presented at check-in. A medical certificate or other relevant document, clearly stating the type of test and the result, must also be presented at check-in.

Are tourists allowed in the UAE?

Yes. Dubai was among the first global destinations to reopen in July, with stringent safety measures in place.

Starting Sunday, a negative PCR test result, received within 72 hours from the scheduled flight departure time, is required to enter Dubai for tourists from all countries. Visitors from some countries will be tested again on arrival.

Last month, Abu Dhabi announced international tourists would be welcomed back to the capital. Travellers will need to present a negative PCR test result received within 96 hours of their scheduled departure, as previously stated. They must undergo a second PCR test on landing in Abu Dhabi.

Travellers from green countries must self-isolate until they receive a negative result from the PCR test taken on landing.

Travellers from non-green-list countries will be tested on landing and must self-isolate with a tracker bracelet for 10 days. They must undergo another PCR test on day eight before the tracker is removed.

Last month, a travel ban between the UK and UAE was announced. It began at 1pm on Friday, January 29.

Updated: February 25, 2021 05:48 PM

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