UAE suspends travel to contain Covid-19

19 March 2020
Measures form part of GCC governments' response to curb the spread of the new coronavirus

The UAE has suspended the issuance of labour permits and added further restrictions on travellers to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic caused by the new coronavirus. 

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has suspended the issuance of all types of labour permits, including those for drivers and domestic workers, effective 19 March until further notice.

The decision does not include intra-corporate transfers and Expo 2020 permits.

Entry for valid visa holders that are currently out of the country has also been suspended for two weeks starting today. 

Individuals currently residing in their countries of origin must contact the UAE diplomatic missions in their countries to streamline their return to the UAE.

Similar measures must be carried out by those outside the UAE for business or vacation purposes.

On 18 March, the UAE also announced a temporary suspension on issuing visas upon arrival for all nationalities. 

The suspension, part of measures introduced by the government to control the spread of the coronavirus, will affect at least 72 nationalities and will last from 1am on Thursday until further notice.

The UAE had suspended all entry visas that require prior application from 17 March. 

The only exceptions were diplomatic passport holders, those already travelling with valid visas and those eligible for visas on arrival. 

The latter group is no longer eligible for travel following the latest suspension. 

The closure of the UAE’s borders follows a raft of measures implemented to contain the spread of Covid-19. 

This includes school closures; event cancellations; shutdowns of tourist spots, cinemas and gyms; and updated operating standards for restaurants.

The UAE announced 15 new cases of Covid-19 on 18 March, raising its national total of confirmed cases to 113.

A 14-day quarantine will be enforced for everyone entering the UAE, state-news agency Wam reported.

Regional spread

Saudi Arabia announced 67 new cases of Covid-19 on 18 March, bringing its total number of confirmed cases to 238.

The government has agreed to cut SR50bn ($13.32bn) - representing less than 5 per cent of its 2020 budget - in areas that have the least social and economic impact, Saudi Press Agency reported on 18 March, citing Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan.

“The government took measures to curb impact of oil price drop and will take additional measures to deal with expected price decrease”, the minister said.

He added that “developments will be reevaluated and items of expenditures will be reviewed” in light of the financial impact of Covid-19. 

Meanwhile, Oman’s Ministry of Tourism has called on travel and tourism agencies and hotel establishments to advise tourist groups to leave the sultanate and return to their countries due to uncertainties resulting from the spread of Covid-19. 

The country has also halted public transportation, including buses, taxis and ferries, from 19 March until further notice. 

Buses and ferries to and from Musandam governorate and Masirah are exempted from the ban implemented by Oman, which has 33 Covid-19 cases.

Kuwait has also clamped down on social interaction to contain the spread of Covid-19 and declared a public holiday on  12-29 March to support remote working and self-isolation in the country. 

Twelve new Covid-19 cases were confirmed in Kuwait on 18 March, raising its total number of confirmed patients to 142. 

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