Severity: Critical Alert
Entry/Exit: UAE extends validity of expired residency and visit visas through December 2020 to mitigate impact of coronavirus restrictions.
This alert affects United Arab Emirates
This alert began 13 Apr 2020 21:43 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 May 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Incident: Restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Transport, travel, and business disruptions; increased security
The United Arab Emirates' (UAE) Identity and Citizenship Authority announced April 13 that all visas, entry permits, and identification cards that may have already expired will remain valid through Dec. 31, 2020 in an effort to mitigate the impact of the nation's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions. Residency visas that expired in early March will be extended through the new expiration date whether the holder is currently in the UAE or abroad. Moreover, visit visas that expired in early March that are held by persons currently inside the UAE will similarly be extended through the end of 2020.
On April 13, UAE flag carrier Emirates Airlines (EK) announced it would begin operating a limited number of outbound international passenger flights from Dubai International Airport's (DXB) Terminal 3 to select destinations. These flights will serve the following cities on the dates or schedules indicated below:
- Algiers, Algeria - April 16
- Chicago, US - April 18
- Frankfurt - Germany - three times weekly
- Jakarta, Indonesia - April 15
- Kabul, Afghanistan - three times weekly from April 16
- London, UK - four times weekly
- Manila, Philippines - April 15 and 16
- Taipei, Taiwan - April 18
- Tunis, Tunisia - April 15
Only citizens of the destination country will be permitted to board the flights. The airline has advised travelers to contact the company directly for further information. All departing passengers will be subject to thermal screening. The Emirates Airlines had previously suspended all inbound and outbound passenger and transit flights starting March 24 to slow the spread of COVID-19.
On April 12, Etihad Airways (EY) announced that the company would temporarily operate special outbound flights to a number of foreign cities between April 14 and 22 from Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH). The special Etihad flights will serve the cities of Brussels, Dublin, London, Tokyo, and Zurich.
Previously enacted restrictions in the UAE include:
- On April 9, authorities extended the closure of places of worship until further notice as part of the country's efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
- Dubai's Department of Economic Development (DED) extended the closure of commercial activities in Dubai Emirate until April 18. DED had ordered the closure of commercial centers, shopping malls, and open food markets March 22 for a period of at least two weeks. The closure does not apply to grocery stores, medical services, and other essential services.
- A nationwide 2000-0600 curfew is in place through at least April 15.
- Officials in Dubai suspended metro and tram services from April 5 until further notice.
- On April 4, authorities in Dubai extended sterilization operations, which had previously been taking place between 2000-0600, and aim to disinfect public spaces; officials extended the operations to 24 hours per day for a period of at least two weeks.
- Movement limitations remain in place: officials will only permit residents to leave their homes to purchase necessities such as food and medicine, work in vital sectors, or seek medical or emergency assistance. Food and medicine delivery services will continue to operate.
- Officials are imposing a ban on entry to valid visa holders who are currently overseas through April 16. Officials initially imposed a two-week entry ban on visa holders March 19.
- Officials are imposing a full lockdown on the Al Ras area of Dubai through at least April 14. The measure includes a complete restriction of movement and the closure of all shops in the area. As residents are unable to leave their homes, the Dubai Health Authority will provide them with essential supplies until the lockdown is lifted.
- All government employees are required to work from home. Private sector companies and commercial establishments are also 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 are imposing an indefinite prohibition on entry by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals, which entered into effect March 20.
- Officials are imposing an indefinite ban on Emirati citizens traveling abroad since March 18. Work permits were suspended effective March 19, with the exception of 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, public parks, swimming pools, movie theaters, and gyms remain closed.
The UAE's Ministry of Interior has urged the public to stay at home and only go out in the event of emergencies or to perform basic tasks, such as shopping for food or other goods from essential businesses, traveling to/from the individual's place of employment, or seeking medical assistance.
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.
World Health Organization: www.who.int
Government of Dubai on Twitter: twitter.com/Dubai_DED
UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs: www.mofaic.gov.ae
Emirates Airlines: www.emirates.com
Etihad Airways: www.etihad.com
Roads & Transport Authority: www.rta.ae
Dubai Movement Permits: www.dxbpermit.gov.ae