On September 17, Abu Dhabi announced that all international arrivals via air or land will be required to wear electronic quarantine wristbands. The announcement came just a handful of days after the United Arab Emirates reported 1,007 new confirmed coronavirus cases on September 12—a record high for the UAE since the start of the pandemic.
The required wristbands are now among the city’s existing coronavirus prevention protocols and precautions that include temperature checks, PCR tests, and a mandatory quarantine period.
All travelers flying into Abu Dhabi airport will need to download and register their information through the Al Hosn app, the UAE’s official COVID-19 test result and contact tracing app.
Upon arrival at Abu Dhabi International Airport, international passengers will undergo a thermal temperature scan and need to produce a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours of arrival (or on the spot) before entering a mandatory 14-day self-isolating quarantine period. According to the Etihad Airways website on travel guidelines and regulations, “health authorities will evaluate the most appropriate location for your 14-day quarantine” depending on your situation; this could be your home, a hotel, or somewhere provided by the authorities.
And this is where the new wristbands come into play.
After clearing immigration, all incoming travelers will be given a “medically approved wristband” by the authorities that must be worn for the entire duration of their quarantine. The Abu Dhabi Media Office stated in a tweet that "the electronic wristband helps to track home quarantine cases to ensure compliance with quarantine procedures." Anyone who breaks protocol will be subjected to fines.
The Etihad Airways website goes on to list a handful of exemptions to the rule—people under the age of 18 or over 69, anyone with a mental disability, anyone who lives in a nursing home or long-term care facility, people who suffer from chronic rheumatological conditions, or anyone who holds a diplomatic passport.
“You are required to repeat a COVID-19 PCR rest on day 12 of quarantine,” the website also states. “Subject to a negative test result, your wristband will then be removed on day 14" at a SEHA health facility.
There are exceptions to the strict 14-day quarantine, though. According to a video posted on Twitter from the official account of the Abu Dhabi Government Media Office, international travelers arriving from other emirates can show proof of their date of arrival into the UAE to either lessen their total days of quarantine or skip it entirely. Travelers who have spent less than 14 days in other emirates will still need to take a PCR test on arrival (or show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from a government-accredited medical facility within 48 hours of arriving), but can subtract the number of days they’ve already spent inside the UAE from their total quarantine time in Abu Dhabi.
It’s worth noting that as of Tuesday, September 23, Abu Dhabi and the rest of the UAE remains closed to tourists. As stated on the Etihad Airways website, “you will only be permitted to enter the UAE if you are a UAE national or resident with a valid visa. All other visa types, including tourist visas, are unable to enter.”
United Arab Emirates Ministry of Health & Prevention. "MoHAP conducts further 95,287 COVID-19 tests, uncovers 1,007 new cases in 24 hours, 521 recoveries, one death." September 12, 2020.
U.S. Embassy & Consulate in the United Arab Emirates. "COVID-19 Information." September 20, 2020.