Dubai will reopen to tourists today. But traveling to the shimmering desert jewel won’t be easy, with the local government imposing several restrictions for tourists before they board their flight. What are these new restrictions, and what is it like to travel to Dubai in a post-COVID-19 world?
Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), was heavily impacted by the coronavirus. The local government, not wanting to end up like Italy and Spain, made moves to lock down the entire city and restrict the movement of citizens. They rolled out ambitious testing and ensured that they had plenty of medical equipment available to those few critical cases.
On April 24th, residents were allowed to move around and visit one another. Cases of the virus have decreased dramatically, and the local authority believes it is now safe to let foreigners into the country. Last year sixteen million tourists visited Dubai contributing Dh150 billion ($40 billion) to the local economy.
What are the new tourist protocols?
There are a few requirements for tourists before they can enter the country.
- Each tourist needs valid health insurance to enter the country. They will need to present proof of this on arrival.
- Tourists will need to download the special Dubai COVID-19 contact tracing app and register their details.
- They will need to fill out a health declaration form before leaving their home country.
- Tourists must do a coronavirus test within four days of departure (96 hours). If a tourist cannot provide the results of this test on arrival, they will be tested at the airport and will have to wait for the results.
- Any tourist that tests positive on arrival at the airport will go to a government 14-day isolation ‘facility’ (likely a hotel) at their own expense.
However, the positive news is that if you are COVID-19 negative, you don’t need to undergo 14-day isolation anymore. Tourists can arrive and travel the city, visiting the sites, and then depart without quarantine.
In good times, Dubai is a hearty destination with attractions aplenty. But in this brave new world, are there still activities and events for tourists to see?
Dubai has encouraged tourist attractions to reopen, with hotels now catering to guests, museums open, and desert adventures resumed. There are a few restrictions on a case by case basis (such as social distancing and reduced capacity for events), but on the whole, Dubai has returned as a destination. Some beaches are still closed, but over the coming weeks, these too may reopen to tourists.
Dubai is a critical hub for airline travel and a destination in itself. To consider it, the somewhat benchmark of the aviation economy would not be wrong, and to see it return to form is a positive sign indeed!
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