There’s been another shift in rules regarding travel to the United Arab Emirates. From August 1, inbound travelers will need a negative COVID-19 test to board a UAE bound flight. That test needs to occur within 96 hours of travel. It impacts the two big UAE carriers, Etihad and Emirates.
COVID-19 testing requirement for all UAE bound passengers from August 1
Right now, only passengers coming in from a dozen selected countries in COVID-19 hot zones need a COVID-19 test before boarding a UAE bound flight. Included on that list is the USA. For passengers coming in from everywhere else (including the UK and EU countries), there is no requirement for a certificate.
But with COVID-19 showing no signs of abating, the UAE is about to put its foot down. Everyone will need a current negative COVID-19 test from August 1. It doesn’t matter where you are coming from.
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“From 1 August 2020, all passengers traveling to Dubai from any destination, including passengers connecting in Dubai, must have a negative COVID-19 test certificate to be accepted on the flight. The test must be taken a maximum of 96 hours before departure. This excludes children under the age of 12 and passengers who have a moderate or severe disability,” says the latest COVID-19 advice on the Emirates website.
The advice on the Eithad website is the same. The Etihad website also notes that travelers wishing to leave Abu Dhabi and heading towards the United Kingdom or any EU country will need a current negative COVID-19 test to travel.
Only test results from certain providers will make the cut
Both airlines have approved COVID-19 test providers and will not allow you to board if you get a test at a non-approved test provider, even if it is negative.
Etihad is directing prospective travelers towards Pure Health.
“If there are approved Pure Health medical facilities in your country, your test result must be issued by the Pure Health approved medical facility – test results from other clinics will not be accepted,” the Etihad website says.
Pure Health is a UAE based pathology company. Should there not be a Pure Health clinic in your current neighborhood, Etihad’s website wants you to input your location, and they’ll bring up a list of approved local pathology providers.
This article is written over 12,000 kilometers distant from Abu Dhabi. However, many well known and reputable local pathology providers are listed near my current location.
Emirates has a similar requirement. A “designated laboratory” will need to do your COVID-19 test. Right now, the Emirates website is only providing designated laboratory information for the twelve countries currently needing COVID-19 tests. In most of these countries, Emirates lists specific providers and sites. In the case of the USA, the airline will accept a certificate from any registered practitioner or laboratory.
Hopefully, after August 1, travelers from the United Kingdom and Europe will also see that kind of flexibility.
Channeling the past to help manage the future?
Both airlines stress you need to travel within 96 hours of the test. You will need to carry a printed copy of the results. Suffice to say, no results or a positive result will see you denied boarding.
The UAE is ahead of the curve here. With no end of COVID-19 in sight, we need to learn to manage the virus. Proof of COVID-19 status is one way to do that and something that will become more and more common. It’s a throwback to a different era. Travelers often had to carry certificates declaring they were free of particular illness to travel. That worked well then and there is no reason why it should not work well now.