COVID-19 test a must for returning UAE residents; ICA permit not required

Etihad says removal of special approval to ease re-entry of residents stuck abroad

  
People wearing protective face masks wait to be tested, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the Cleveland Clinic hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, April 20, 2020.

People wearing protective face masks wait to be tested, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the Cleveland Clinic hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, April 20, 2020.

REUTERS/Christopher Pike

The decision to remove the special permit for residents returning to the UAE will provide ease of travel for expatriates who are stuck abroad, the country’s major carrier said on Wednesday.

It is also a welcome news for people living in the UAE, as they can now travel with ease and re-enter the country freely without having to wait for approval to do so while overseas, Etihad said in a statement.

However, returning residents are advised that they still need to undergo the necessary test to ensure that they have not been infected by coronavirus.

The National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA) and the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) announced on Tuesday that the entry permit they had earlier required for returning residents will be removed.

In time for school reopening

The new policy, approved in time for the resumption of classes and continued efforts to help businesses recover and revitalize the local economy, is part of the second phase of the UAE Resident Return Programme.

“With the gradual return to normal life in Abu Dhabi, this step will further ease the re-entry for a greater number of professionals, as schools and universities re-open and regular working practices are resumed,” Etihad said.

NCEMA, however, clarified that travellers will need to present a negative COVID-19 test result prior to returning to the UAE.

“The continued obligation to conduct a lab test for COVID-19 abroad at accredited facilities and the requirement to obtain a negative test result no more than 96 hours before take-off [is still required]. Travellers will need to present the negative test certificate to air carriers,” NCEMA said on Twittter.

“All precautionary and preventive measures will be applied for residents upon their arrival to the UAE, including a lab examination for COVID-19 and adherence to the approved quarantine period,” it added.

Etihad guidelines

Etihad confirmed that customers do still need to get tested prior to boarding the plane bound to Abu Dhabi. It added that effective August 16, the pre-flight coronavirus test will also apply to all travellers departing the UAE capital.

For customers flying into Abu Dhabi from Pakistan and India, they are required to use an Etihad-approved medical facility.

The airline clarified that children under the age of 12 and people with mild to severe disabilities are currently exempt from the PCR test requirement.

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)

Cleofe.maceda@refinitiv.com

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© ZAWYA 2020

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