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Abu Dhabi removes COVID-19-related capacity restrictions, masks remain

The United Arab Emirates’ largest city also recently mandated the resumption of in-person classes for students, and is heading toward a return to the pre-coronavirus normal.
A view of a French jeweller Cartier shop at Jumeirah mall, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 8, 2017.

Capacity restrictions in Abu Dhabi ended today. 

All business activities, tourist attractions and events in the city and eponymous emirate can now return to 100% operating capacity. However, the wearing of face masks will still be required indoors, the Abu Dhabi Government Media Office said in a statement, citing Abu Dhabi's Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee. 

The committee also extended the validity of the “Green Pass” from 14 days to 30 days for fully vaccinated individuals, per the statement. 

The Green Pass is required to enter public places in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). To obtain the digital pass, people must test negative for COVID-19. Vaccinated people’s test results unlock the pass for a longer period of time. 

Why it matters: The decision further demonstrates Abu Dhabi’s return to a pre-pandemic normal. Earlier this year, authorities mandated that students return to in-person classes

Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the rest of the UAE had harsh lockdowns in 2020 at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The business closures aimed at mitigating the virus’ spread had negative effects on the local economy and the population’s mental health. Things began to open up later in 2020, though Abu Dhabi returned to a lockdown for a period last year. 

The UAE as a whole experienced a major COVID-19 outbreak in January amid the spread of the omicron variant around the world. Cases and deaths have since dropped to a historic low. The UAE is currently averaging zero deaths a day related to the virus. 

Emirati leadership vowed in January they would not return to the lockdowns. 

What’s next: The removal of capacity restrictions in Abu Dhabi bodes well for the hospitality and entertainment sector in the city. Many marque international sporting events are coming up in the Emirati capital. In October, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) mixed martial arts competition will return to the Etihad Arena. Past UFC events featured extensive anti-virus protocols. In November, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Formula 1 race will take place.