UAE ANNOUNCES VISA SUSPENSION AND FLIGHT RESTRICTION MEASURES
No new visas will be issued from March 17. Flights to Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Turkey will be halted.
The UAE has announced it will “temporarily suspend” issuing the majority of new visas into the country from Tuesday, March 17.
Authorities said only those with diplomatic passports would be exempt from the move, which came as governments around the world stepped up efforts to contain the coronavirus.
In a statement on Saturday, the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) said it was responding to the World Health Organisation’s decision to designate the ongoing outbreak as a pandemic.
More than 145,000 cases of the virus have been recorded globally so far, with more than 5,000 deaths. More than 72,000 patients have recovered.
Also on Saturday, the UAE Civil Aviation Authority announced it was halting all flights to and from Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Turkey from March 17 until further notice.
On Friday, the Emirates announced the suspension of flights to and from Italy, with the exception of flights from Rome.
Other countries have also imposed major travel restrictions in recent days, including the United States which introduced a ban on non-Americans who had spent time in the Schengen border-free area within 14 days of travelling to the US.
“The [visa suspension] comes as part of the precautionary measures taken by the UAE in response to the World Health Organisation’s declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, a development which reflects the high risks now associated with travel under the current circumstances,” a statement from the ICA said.
“The ICA affirms that the decision stems from the UAE’s deep sense of responsibility and diligent efforts in collaboration with other countries of the world to fight the coronavirus pandemic and survive this ongoing crisis.”
Meanwhile on Saturday, the Louvre Abu Dhabi as well as a number of other popular tourist attractions across the country were closed as part of efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19.
The closures, most of which will last until the end of March, affect more than 12 major attractions across Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
In the city, Qasr Al Watan, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Qasr Al Hosn, and Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation all shut, in addition to all four theme parks on Yas Island: Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, Yas WaterWorld, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and CLYMB Abu Dhabi.
Outside of the city in Al Ain, Al Ain Palace Museum, Al Ain Oasis and Qasr Al Muwaiji have also been closed.
In a tweet, Abu Dhabi Government Media Office said the sites would be closed “until March 31 to limit large gatherings and protect public health in response to Covid-19”.
In a statement, the Department of Culture and Tourism, said the well-being of staff and visitors was “paramount”.
“We will update you once the cultural sites resume normal operations,” the authority said.
Updated: March 14, 2020 06:57 PM