The UAE Prepares To Open Its Borders: Here’s What It Could Look Like
Since the travel ban was enforced in March, movement in and out of the Emirates has been restricted, to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Flights in and out of the country since then have been to repatriate citizens stuck here or abroad.
However, according to an update from Dubai Tourism, a “full reopening” is being prepared for. In the statement, Dubai Tourism said the following:
"Authorities are preparing for a full reopening of UAE's borders, subject to the removal of travel restrictions by implementing a series of strategic measures in conjunction with their federal counterparts designed to ensure the virus does not enter the emirate through its sea and land ports."
"Travellers will be welcomed to Dubai in a safe and secure environment ensuring seamless use of contactless technologies and advanced equipment for screening incoming and outgoing passengers to safeguard the city from any spread of infection. World-class cleaning and disinfection processes across all facilities, attractions and assets to ensure a risk-free experience for tourists in the city are being implemented.”
What will that mean for visitors to the UAE?
Much of Dubai has already begun to reopen, with restaurants, gyms and malls now open but operating under strict social distancing regulations. Here is what’s in place at the moment.
This year, staying in is the new going out. And that applies to travel as well. Many hotels in Dubai are already open to UAE residents for staycations. Limited occupancy, plus safety measures, including staff wearing masks and social distancing of sun loungers by the pool and beach, are also being enforced, in line with with the directives from the Ministry of Health and Prevention and the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA).
Beaches were recently reopened at JBR, Jumeriah, AL Mamzar and Umm Suqeim, but facemasks still need to be worn (unless you’re in the water) and social distancing is still in place and being enforced.
Bars and restaurants
Remember bars and restaurants? We do. In the same way that hotels are open with new guidelines in place, the same applies to Dubai’s restaurants and bars. Guests must be sat at a table to order food, and alcohol is only served when food is ordered. Facemasks are worn by wait staff, although not by customers, for obvious food-in-mouth based reasons.
Emirates and Etihad are operating flights out of the UAE to a number of destinations in Europe, America and the far east. According to the Emirates website, thermal screenings are in place, and face masks need to be worn. All the airport lunges are currently closed, as is online check-in. It is of course also worth ensuring you are eligible for re-entry if you’re planning on coming back.
Taxis are still the best way to get around in the heat. However, with no more than 3 people to a taxi, traveling in groups larger than pairs will mean splitting up. Taxis have been running throughout the lockdown, making use of plastic barriers to separate drivers and passengers, as well as ongoing cleaning.
We get it, sometimes ordering online doesn’t quite cut it. Dubai’s Malls reopened last month with screening in place for visitors including temperature checks on entry and thermal cameras in operation, too. Round the clock sanitization and reduced overall capacity are also in place.
There is only so far you can get doing squat jumps at home. Thankfully, gyms have reopened, operating strict social distancing —think 2m squared blocks on the gym floor if you’re in a class— and clean downs of machines between users. While community gyms are now allowed to reopen, many are still closed until they can be properly sanitized.