New Rules To Get In To Abu Dhabi & How They Affect Residents & Businesses
30th June 2020, Updated 1st July 2020
It's encouraging to see movement restrictions in Abu Dhabi are relaxing. At the end of last week it was announced that movement within the Emirate - travelling between the cities - was allowed again without the need for a special permit. Last week it was also announced that people within Abu Dhabi Emirate could leave the Emirate altogether, without special permits giving pre-approval, but they would require a permit to get back into Abu Dhabi. Yesterday it was announced the rules for getting into Abu Dhabi have been changed further.
New rules to get into Abu Dhabi Emirate for residents
It is now necessary to get a PCR Covid-19 test to enter Abu Dhabi Emirate. The negative result must be received within 48 hours of the planned journey to Abu Dhabi and shown via either text message or the Al Hosn app en-route. The test can be taken at a government health centre, a drive through Covid-19 testing facility or a private hospital affiliated with the National Screening Programme. Results are usually issued 24-48 hours following the test. The test costs AED350, but is free for select people, such as pregnant women, residents over 60 years and UAE citizens.
Who is exempted from the PCR Covid-19 test to enter Abu Dhabi?
People with medical appointments for cancer or kidney-related treatments
Children under 12
Representatives from Ministries; local departments; diplomatic entities; Companies, Bureaus and Offices of Their Highnesses; and, those of special missions. These individuals must apply for a one day Mission Permit with a validity of 14 hours (6:00am - 8:00pm) via email to firstname.lastname@example.org and must be tested every 14 days.
What does this mean for residents travelling into Abu Dhabi Emirate?
As the test result is only valid for 48 hours, residents should book their PCR Covid-19 test in advance which can be done in Abu Dhabi via SEHA (8001717) or in Dubai via DHA (800342).
Residents travelling into Abu Dhabi Emirate on a daily basis will require multiple tests during the week as the test result is only valid for 48 hours. For individuals not meeting the criteria for a free test, this will mean paying AED350 possibly two or three times a week and these costs will quickly add up:
For residents doing business across the Emirates it will mean that meetings need to be planned in advance to ensure valid test results are in place. It will mean an end to the "Can you come to Dubai for a meeting this afternoon" or "Can you meet us in Abu Dhabi tomorrow morning" unless the individual(s) happen to have valid test results. Alternatively, the increasingly common video calls will continue to take place.
What does this mean for HR policies in Abu Dhabi and Dubai?
There are a couple of initiatives which require residents working in Abu Dhabi to live in Abu Dhabi. The government of Abu Dhabi implemented an initiative a few years ago that employees of Abu Dhabi government departments need to be resident in Abu Dhabi and either show a valid lease or property ownership. For Abu Dhabi visa-holders wanting to sponsor dependents, it is a requirement that they live in Abu Dhabi (exceptions have previously been allowed in extenuating circumstances). Some companies will have experienced employees being stuck and unable to get to work (and in some instances, employees have been stuck and unable to get home from work, forcing them to stay in hotels at their own expense. Given this is a consequence of the pandemic, it will be interesting to see if companies update their HR policies, at least for new hires, insisting employees reside in the Emirate where their visa is issued.
Written by Jenny Hunt, Founding Partner & CEO
Gateway Group of Companies, Abu Dhabi & Dubai UAE
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