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United Arab Emirates, home to global hub Dubai, to ease virus restrictions

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates, home to the global business and travel hub of Dubai, will relax masking requirements imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, authorities announced on Monday.

From Wednesday, the wearing of face masks will no longer be compulsory in public places, except for medical facilities, mosques and public transport, the official WAM news agency reported.

Masks will also be optional in schools. But food service workers and anyone confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19 should always wear one.

The changes were announced by Dr Saif al-Dhaheri, spokesperson for the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority.

He said the agency would also stop providing daily updates on COVID-19 cases while providing updated data on the pandemic.

Dubai, home to the world’s busiest airport for international travel, was forced to ground all passenger flights and close its airports for eight weeks at the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Unlike Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai has quickly reopened its doors to travellers.

Dubai has not required proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to enter and does not require a negative virus test to enter most places. This approach did not come without cost. The United Arab Emirates has been redlisted as a ‘non-travelling’ country by the UK, US and other countries for much of the last year.

More than 29.1 million passengers still flew through Dubai International Airport, or DXB, last year. That’s a far cry from the pre-pandemic milestone of 86.4 million annual traffic the airport saw in 2019.

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