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Why is Abu Dhabi the only emirate asking for a COVID-19 test upon entry?

A medical worker takes a swab from a man being tested for COVID-19 coronavirus disease. For illustrative purposes only.
Image Credit: AFP

Abu Dhabi: Following the opening of Abu Dhabi’s borders earlier this week, authorities have now responded to the large influx of queries posed by concerned residents.

On June 29, the Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Committee announced that entry to Abu Dhabi is permitted for all those who have received negative test results for coronavirus within the previous 48 hours.

According to the committee, the test results should be shown via the Al Hosn App or a text message from any hospital or any screening centre in the UAE that is affiliated with the National Screening Programme. The movement of mail and all types of goods continue to be exempted.

To address people’s concerns of movement into the emirate, Abu Dhabi Media Office replied to the most frequently asked questions received by authorities over the last two days, and have also issued further details regarding the entry of residents from other areas of the country.

Why has this decision been taken?

In light of continued positive outcomes in containing the spread of COVID-19 in the emirate, this decision has been made to enable the public to enter Abu Dhabi without the need to apply for a permit. Abu Dhabi has achieved a low number of patients requiring hospital treatment, with many hospitals across the emirate now free of COVID-19 cases, and a significant decrease in the percentage of cases found during testing.

Why is Abu Dhabi different from other emirates?

Abu Dhabi’s decision is a preventative measure based on several factors and indicators, with the objective of reducing the possibility of infection between locations in general and supporting the completion of the National Screening Programme approved by the Abu Dhabi Emergency Crisis and Disaster Committee for the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of tests across all groups in Abu Dhabi society have been conducted and are still ongoing.

What are the procedures for entering Abu Dhabi?

Everyone, UAE citizens and residents, is allowed to enter the emirate of Abu Dhabi within 48 hours of receiving a negative COVID-19 test result, excluding:

  • Those transporting mail and goods of all kinds.
  • Entry of non-Abu-Dhabi-based blue-collar workers is still prohibited.

Are there any exceptions?

The following groups are exempt:

  • Those with medical appointments for cancer or kidney-related treatment.
  • Children under 12 years old.
  • Representatives from ministries, local departments, diplomatic entities, companies, bureaus, and offices of Their Highnesses, and those on special missions, may apply for a one-day Mission Permit for a maximum of 14 hours (6am – 8pm)

Are frontline workers excluded?

Frontline workers are not excluded, but because of the nature of their work they already undergo regular tests.

Does the entry ban on non-Abu Dhabi based workers include domestic staff?

Domestic staff for families in Abu Dhabi may enter the emirate as long as they have a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of receiving the result.

What about people leaving for the weekend to visit family?

The decision allows those who wish to leave the emirate to do so and re-enter again. A test may be taken at SEHA Screening Centres across the UAE, which will operate during the weekends. People choosing to leave at the weekend are advised to continue to reduce or limit their movement during this time, in order to protect themselves and their families from the risk of infection.

What about people who work in Abu Dhabi and commute daily?

People who commute daily are advised to organise their time so they are able to take the test and obtain the result within the 48 hour time period to be able to enter. People that ordinarily commute daily to Abu Dhabi are advised to reduce or limit their movement during this time.

How will people be able to cover the test cost, which is Dh370 per person, if they need to be tested every 48 hours?

This decision is not designed to increase costs for the public but rather to ensure their health and safety is protected and therefore, that people consider whether movement is necessary.

Under the direction of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, free tests are available to many groups in society, including:

  • UAE nationals and domestic staff in their households.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People of determination.
  • Those over the age of 50.
  • Those suffering from symptoms associated with COVID-19 or that have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

People not covered under these categories should cover the cost of a test.

Will all cars be stopped to check test results?

Yes, and to support this effort we strongly advise the public not to attempt entering the emirate without having a negative test result. Doing so will cause delays for others and add unnecessary pressure on checkpoints.

How long will these regulations last?

This decision will be in effect until further notice, and will depend on continued monitoring and further positive outcomes that have been seen in recent weeks, and the conclusion of the National Screening Programme.

Does this not effectively prohibit travel, indirectly?

Quite the opposite, actually — the decision enables the public to enter Abu Dhabi without a permit, and the test is a preventative measure that safeguards the health of each person, their family, and their community. Rather than prohibiting, the decision enables travel while protecting the health and safety of all those residing in and visiting Abu Dhabi.


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