Severity: Critical Alert
Entry/Exit: Emirates Airlines in UAE to operate additional outbound and inbound flights to several destinations from May 21.
This alert affects United Arab Emirates
This alert began 14 May 2020 15:15 GMT and is scheduled to expire 11 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Incident: Restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Transport, travel, and business disruptions, increased security
United Arab Emirates' (UAE) flag carrier Emirates Airlines (EK) announced they would operate multiple regular, non-repatriation flights to several locations in Europe, the US, Canada, and Australia from May 21. Passengers will only be permitted to fly if they comply with the entry criteria and requirements of their destination countries. Passengers wishing to return to the UAE must be an Emirati national or resident. Travelers to the UAE must first receive approval from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship through the Twajudi Resident Service. All passengers arriving in the UAE will undergo testing, a mandatory 14-day quarantine period, and a follow-up test before release. The UAE initially grounded inbound and outbound flights March 24 as part of the country's efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Dubai-based Emirates and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways (EY) had earlier announced that they would operate several inbound flights from several destinations in Europe, the Americas, and Asia, beginning May 10. The airlines will also operate additional outbound flights to the Americas, Asia, and Europe.
Authorities in Dubai further eased COVID-19 related restrictions, allowing tram, marine, and shared transportation services to resume from May 13. Tram services, suspended since April 5, will now run 0700-2300 Sunday through Thursday and 1000-2300 on Fridays. Marine transportation, including the Dubai Ferry, water taxis, and abras, can operate from 0830-2100. Additionally, Dubai authorities reopened public parks and allowed sports and recreational activities in open spaces for up to five people. The use of masks in public transportation and spaces remains mandatory.
Authorities in Sharjah Emirate eased restrictions and allowed some malls, salons, and dine-in restaurants to reopen from May 3 for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which runs April 23-May 24. Other regulations relaxed for the Ramadan period include:
- In Ajman Emirate, certain malls may operate 1200-2200.
- In the cities of Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, certain malls may operate 1200-2100.
- Curfew measures are shortened nationwide from 2000-0600 to 2200-0600 during Ramadan.
During curfew periods, officials will only permit residents to leave their homes for essential purposes, such as purchasing food, seeking medical assistance, and working in vital sectors. Supermarkets, grocery stores, and pharmacies will be permitted to operate 24 hours per day; however, produce markets, butcheries, bakeries, and mills will only be allowed to operate 0600-2200. Shops are required to adhere to health guidelines, such as wearing face masks, ensuring the percentage of customers does not exceed 30 percent of the store's capacity at any given time, and ensuring a distance of at least 2 meters (6.5 feet) between customers.
Previously enacted restrictions in the UAE include:
- The UAE Identity and Citizenship Authority announced April 13 that all visas, entry permits, and identification cards that may have already expired would remain valid through Dec. 31, 2020, to mitigate the impact of the nation's COVID-19 restrictions. Officials will also extend residency visas that expired in early March through December 2020. Moreover, visit visas that expired in early March and held by persons currently inside the UAE will similarly be extended through the end of 2020.
- On April 9, authorities extended the closure of places of worship until further notice.
- Officials imposed a ban on entry to valid visa holders who are currently overseas through April 16.
- All government employees are required to work from home. Private sector companies and commercial establishments are required to allow at least 80 percent of their employees to work from home. The order exempts companies in critical service sectors, such as security, health, food, logistics, delivery services, industrial and manufacturing, and banking.
- Officials have imposed an indefinite prohibition on entry by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals, which entered into effect March 20.
- Officials have imposed an indefinite ban on Emirati citizens traveling abroad since March 18. Work permits were suspended effective March 19, except for internal transportation permits and employment permits for Expo 2020.
- Officials are suspending the issuance of all visas to foreigners, except those with diplomatic passports, as of March 17.
- Commercial ships entering UAE's ports are required to provide a statement detailing the health status of their crew 72 hours before arrival.
- Major tourist sites and cultural venues, beaches, swimming pools, movie theaters, and gyms remain closed.
Background and Analysis
The UAE's travel restrictions and preventive measures are similar to actions other governments are taking globally in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
Individuals affected by the restrictions should consider postponing planned travel. Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions,