Abu Dhabi: A guide to all the mask, Alhosn and quarantine updates
This is a big week in the UAE’s pandemic story…
As you’re probably already aware, there were some hugely important rule and regulations changes that came out of last night’s National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) Covid-19 briefing.
Changes that were made possible by the UAE’s widely celebrated fluid and proactive pandemic handling policy.
The first and probably most immediately-impactful update is to the mask mandates. From Wednesday, September 28, 2022 — the requirement to wear masks in most indoor spaces will be dropped. The rule regarding the wearing of masks outdoors was removed in February of this year.
Individuals will still be required to wear a mask in the UAE when on public transport, attending mosque or in medical settings. Food service providers and suspected Covid-19 cases will also be required to continue wearing a mask.
However in all other indoor environments, including schools, hotels and malls, masks will become optional from Wednesday. It’s welcome news for parents with school children who have still been required to wear masks in lessons and between classes when indoors.
Events and airlines will have autonomy to decide whether or not to implement mask requirements during their operations. Abu Dhabi has a packed indoor and outdoor event schedule in Q4 of 2022, and Q1 of 2023 — so there is still a question over whether masks will be a requirement during these festivities.
We announce the loosening of COVID-19-related restrictions nationwide, as well as the updates to all sectors, which will be in force from 28th September, 2022.
— وزارة الداخلية (@moiuae) September 26, 2022
One of the other aspects covered by the Monday September 27 announcement — is that of the validity of the Green Pass window on the Alhosn app.
This is of particular interest to the residents of and visitors to Abu Dhabi, where having a Green Pass is still a requirement to enter almost all public spaces
So what’s changed?
The main update is that from Wednesday, the Green Pass duration has been increased from 14 to 30 days for the fully vaccinated (including requisite boosters) and those with medically-verified, active exemptions for vaccines. So following a negative PCR result obtained within the UAE, and uploaded into the Alhosn system, those in the vaccinated/exempted categories will receive a Green Pass in the app for 30 days. But note — either the vaccines or the exemption from vaccines must be present in the Alhosn app for the 30 day Green Pass to apply.
For those partially or unvaccinated, the Green Pass will be valid for a period of seven days following a negative PCR test.
— وزارة الداخلية (@moiuae) September 26, 2022
What is the Alhosn Green Pass?
The Alhosn Green Pass is essentially a traffic light app, showing your current Covid-19 test and vaccination status, and like the wearing of face masks, it’s pretty much essential for travel into public places within Abu Dhabi.
It’s free and available from Apple, Google Play, Samsung Store and AppGallery. The app has many functions but its main ones are storing your vaccination data (residents vaccinated in the UAE should have their information loaded automatically, tourists vaccinated overseas should follow the guide below for how to upload their certificates into the system), and showing any recent PCR tests linked to your account.
Updates to quarantine rules
The NCEMA announcement also included changes to quarantine rules.
No quarantining is required for close contact cases, although a PCR test should be sought immediately if symptoms develop.
Mandatory isolation for confirmed cases has been reduced to five days.
How tourists prove they’ve been vaccinated
The Alhosn app that provides the gateway for accessing almost all public places in Abu Dhabi has just been given a new update that will make it significantly easier to use for tourists hoping to visit the emirate.
The new feature will allow tourists to download the app and register in advance, using their passport number instead of having to wait for their UID number issued as part of their visa (as was the case prior to this latest change). For more details check out our guide.
Vaccine certificates will be essential for those wishing to enter the UAE on these updated rules. Tourists must get their documents registered on the ICA website five days prior to the departure date. We recommend doing this on the desktop site, as there is more reported functionality.
Step one, download the ICA app and fill in the form under the Register Arrival section. Here you’ll be able to upload your vaccination certificates and once completed, you’ll be sent an SMS with a link to download the Alhosn app. You’ll need to use the same phone number on the ICA app, as you use for the Alhosn app — we recommend that you use a UAE sim (you can change the registered phone number registered to the ICA via the ICA app).
Next you’ll need a UID number, this can be provided at the airport when you arrive or via the ICA website. This is essential for setting up your profile on the Alhosn app. You’ll need to link a phone number to the Alhosn account (the same one you’ve used for the ICA).