Travel ban on unvaccinated UAE citizens: Covid jab eases flight procedures, say Emiratis

Some nationals call for application of new rule on all residents



By Rasha Abubaker and Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Tue 11 Jan 2022, 7:13 PM

Last updated: Wed 12 Jan 2022, 7:24 AM

UAE nationals have spoken out about the importance of getting vaccinated against Covid-19, stressing that the jab is critical for their own protection and that of others, providing them with a sense of safety and security, especially when travelling abroad.

Their comments follow the implementation of a travel ban on unvaccinated Emiratis from January 10.

The National Crisis & Emergency Management Authority and Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation had earlier said that fully vaccinated citizens would also need to get the Covid-19 booster dose. Those who are unable to take the vaccine because of medical reasons are exempted from the decision.

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Alyazi Al Ameri, 29, a government employee, believes that the travel ban on unvaccinated Emiratis is important and should be applied to expats too.

"When I first read the news about travel ban on unvaccinated citizens, the very first question that came to my mind is why restricting unvaccinated Emiratis from travelling while unvaccinated expats or UAE residents living with us on the same land are not restricted too?," she said.

"The pandemic is not linked to a certain nationality or race, the virus is one and it will hit all regardless of their status in this country. It is better to have the rule applied to all, especially since expats are travelling regularly more than UAE nationals. So it will be safer for both parties since we're all living in the UAE."

Al Ameri noted that she welcomes the mandatory vaccination for Emiratis who wish to travel.

"It is a good idea for protecting our individuals from the deadly effects of any forms of coronaviruses that are spreading. I would really encourage everyone to get vaccinated, regardless if they are travelling or not," she said.

She noted that one downside is that the decision may affect some travel plans that were set and paid for in advance.

"It would have been better if there was a gradual communication to allow people to prepare", she said. She added that there could be some financial losses related to non-refundable air tickets, booking of hotels, cars, domestic flights, and appointments.

Covid vaccine keeps travellers safe

Emirati editor, Haya Al Omaira, 33, says she travels often, and feels that being vaccinated has kept her safe.

"The cases are rising and very widespread, so prevention is key. Even if one gets infected, the symptoms will be less severe, and the recovery will be faster," said Al Omaira.

"Being vaccinated eases travel procedures and also allows us to easily enter restaurants, hotels, and take part in activities abroad as well."

Echoing similar sentiments, Hessa Al Hammadi, 25, a media expert, says mandating vaccines is done to ensure the safety of people above all else as "we can't ground all planes as travelling is not necessarily exclusively for leisure."

"As soon as the new rule came into force, the few who previously didn't agree had to accept it and realise that while travelling, being vaccinated gives you that sense of safety and security," said Al Hammadi.

"We are thankfully witnessing controlled hospitalisation and fatality rates, even though cases are on the rise all over the globe due to new variants and new risks are present every day. Yet, the severity of the virus has been contained. Vaccines played a major role in achieving that."

"Having vaccinated travellers has become more crucial than ever before," she concluded.

For Emirati businessman Ahmed Al Mubarak, it's important that everyone without medical issues gets vaccinated.

"It seems like Covid-19 is here to stay, and it's crucial that we all acquire the necessary protection against all the new variants. Besides travelling, being vaccinated is the only way people can stay together safely, whether in workplaces, shopping malls, worshipping places, et cetera," he said.

Vaccine lessens lawyer's Covid symptoms

40-year-old Afraa Alhashimi, an Emirati lawyer who is currently infected with the coronavirus, says she was sceptical at first about getting the Covid vaccine. However, she is now is thankful she finally did as she believes it has blunted the potential severity of her symptoms.

"In the beginning, like many, I was not sure if I wanted to take the Covid vaccine. But I wanted to follow the government's guidelines and of course knowing that I would not be able to travel without getting vaccinated, I decided to take it, and it did not negatively affect my health at all," she said.

"I currently have Covid-19, but with very mild symptoms, that are not even worth mentioning. I look forward to travelling again after I recover," she concluded.

rasha@khaleejtimes.com

ismail@khaleejtimes.com


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