Abu Dhabi residents feel safer visiting public spaces after Green Pass roll-out

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A security guard checks the Green Pass of shoppers at Khalidiyah Mall in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: At public venues across Abu Dhabi, residents on Tuesday presented their Al Hosn UAE Green Pass before entering the premises. The new system, designed to provide an additional layer of protection against the COVID-19 outbreak, went live in the morning, with residents hailing its aims.

While many had their Al Hosn apps on the ready as they walked into malls and restaurants, others were assisted by security guards and facility staff. Malls, amusement parks and even restaurants had also put up large signs directing patrons to download and present their Green Passes.

What is a Green Pass?

The Green Pass is itself available on the UAE’s official vaccine registry — Al Hosn app, which includes details about individuals’ vaccination status and PCR tests. Each user is assigned a colour based on their latest COVID-19 PCR test. Red indicates that the individual has contracted COVID-19. Green indicates the person is free from COVID-19 and this is the Green Pass. The colour reverts from green to grey when the latest PCR test validity has expired.

The system, approved by the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP), complements existing COVID-19 precautionary measures in Abu Dhabi. The emirate’s Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee approved its usage last Wednesday (June 9) to ensure safe entry and contact tracing at 11 types of venues and attractions: shopping malls, large supermarkets, gyms, hotels, hotel facilities, public parks, beaches, swimming pools, entertainment centres, cinemas, museums, restaurants and cafés.

Children aged younger than 16 years are exempt, as are those with a valid exemption certificate issued by Abu Dhabi’s health authorities.

Residents speak

Nasser Al Junaibi was all smiles as he strode into Khalidiyah Mall on Tuesday morning. “This is a great system and I would have supported its implementation months ago. In fact, I would not have gone out in public if I had not been fully vaccinated because it is simply not responsible!” the 60-year-old Emirati told Gulf News.

Al Junaibi, who is himself fully vaccinated, added that the Green Pass enhances Abu Dhabi’s precautionary measures against COVID-19. “Not only are people being encouraged to vaccinate, they must also get regular screenings to go out in public. In this way, we can help reduce COVID-19 transmission,” he said.

“The Green Pass system is a great idea, and I am happy to know that I can be safe if I go out with my family. I hope that all public venues will take it seriously, and also ensure that it is implemented in a manner that in convenient for visitors,” said Rashid Al Ali, a 71-year-old Emirati.

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Rashid Al Ali shows his Green Pass at Khalidiyah Mall in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Staff safety

The Green Pass complements other COVID-19 precautions in Abu Dhabi, with visitors to public spaces still required to wear masks and maintain social distancing. The system has been greeted by mall staff, who say it is comforting to know that the customers they encounter will likely be vaccinated and COVID-19 negative.

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Ajesah Lumpapac shows her Green Pass at Khalidiyah Mall in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

“As part of Abu Dhabi’s regulations, I am fully vaccinated and get a PCR test every two weeks. Still, I come across many different people every day because I work at a restaurant. Knowing that every adult has presented a Green Pass in order to come in is reassuring,” said Ajesah Lumpapac, a Filipina.

Assigns responsibility

The UAE’s COVID-19 precautions have already been noted as some of the most robust in the world, and many expats testify that they feel safer here than anywhere else. “Other countries could learn from the UAE’s COVID-19 preventive strategies, honestly. Not only is the Green Pass system excellent, its tiered validity period for people with different vaccination statuses will help people understand their own responsibility with regard to fighting this pandemic,” said Diane Devine, a clinical research scientist from Scotland.

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Diane Devine shows her Green Pass at Khalidiyah Mall in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Like many Abu Dhabi residents, Devine is fully vaccinated. “Still, I will feel safer going out now because many people who have COVID-19 can be asymptomatic, and the testing required to get a Green Pass will help detect them,” she said.

Happy parents

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Nourah Hamda shows her Green Pass at Khalidiyah Mall in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

Parents were also welcoming of the Green Pass system, saying that it would help keep safe young children, who cannot yet be vaccinated themselves. “I have long been vaccinated, but my children — aged six and eight — cannot get the shots to protect themselves from COVID-19. I will feel more secure now when I take them out with me. In fact, I think it will encourage every one who is not yet vaccinated to get the jabs,” added Nourah Hamda, 34, a Jordanian HR professional.

Trained security

The first day of the system roll-out did see a few surprised visitors to public spaces, but Mayank Pal, general manager at Khalidiyah Mall, said residents will likely become used to the new requirements.

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Mayank Pal shows his Green Pass at Khalidiyah Mall in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

“We trained security personnel as soon as the system was announced last week, and they have been placed at all five entrances to the mall. In addition, for those who do not have data on their phones, we provide WiFi so that they can access Al Hosn and present the Green Pass,” Pal said.

Recreational facilities

At Abu Dhabi’s popular Yas Island recreational facilities, operated by Farah Experiences, the system is also in place. “Ensuring the health and safety of our guests and colleagues is our top priority and as such we will continue to follow all directives as mandated by the relevant authorities. As of June 15, 2021, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld, Warner Bros. World™ Abu Dhabi, CLYMB™ Abu Dhabi and Qasr Al Watan will require all guests aged 16 years and above to provide proof of a Green Pass on Al Hosn UAE application. Preliminarily, staff at the entry gates of each attraction will ask guests to present their passes for manual validation. At a later stage, digital scanners will be installed to facilitate easier access to the theme parks and attractions. We advise all guests to have the Al Hosn UAE application activated on their smartphones before visiting to avoid any delays to their entry,” Farah Experiences said in a statement.

“We remind guests that the Green Pass will only be used to facilitate entry but it does not replace any of the existing precautionary measures in place. Guests are still required to undergo thermal screening upon entry, observe social distancing and wear masks at all times. All the theme parks and attractions currently hold the ‘Go Safe’ certification awarded by the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi). The programme aims to enforce global standards for safety and cleanliness across all tourism and retail establishments in the emirate of Abu Dhabi,” it added.

Pass validity

Here is a breakdown of the Green Pass-based validity periods:

Valid for 30 days after a negative COVID-19 PCR test result: This is for Category 1 individuals, who have received their second vaccine dose at least 28 days earlier, or who have volunteered in the UAE’s vaccine trials. To achieve the additional active icon — a gold star or letter ‘E’ — that is required for screening-free travel into Abu Dhabi Emirate, a PCR test however needs to be taken every seven days.

Valid for 14 days after a negative COVID-19 PCR test result: This is for Category 2 individuals, who have received the second COVID-19 vaccine dose less than 28 days ago.

Valid for seven days after a negative COVID-19 PCR test result: This is for Category 3 individuals, who have received the first vaccine dose and are waiting for the second dose appointment, and for Category 5 individuals, who have received vaccine exemption certificates on Al Hosn.

Valid for three days after a negative COVID-19 PCR test result: This is for Category 4 individuals, who have received the first vaccine dose, but are late to the second dose appointment by 48 days or more. It also applies for Category 6 individuals, who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 and who do not have vaccine exemption certificates on Al Hosn.

How to apply for an Al Hosn UAE vaccine exemption certificate

1. Visit an authorised medical centre in Abu Dhabi for medical evaluation

* Abu Dhabi Health Services Co (Seha), Phone: 80050

* Mubadala Healthcare Phone: 8004959

2. The centre will submit a report to the Department of Health Abu Dhabi for approval.

3. The applicant will be informed about the approval via text message, and it will be reflected on Al Hosn.

Official inspections

The Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi, which regulates cultural spaces in the Abu Dhabi, issued a circular on Monday instructing all tourism and hotel establishments in Abu Dhabi to implement the Green Pass for entry into their facilities. It added that inspectors will ensure compliance.

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A security guard at Khalidiyah Mall in Abu Dhabi checks shoppers’ Green Passes on Tuesday. Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal/Gulf News

“This circular is effective from 15 June 2021 … and circulars previously issued by DCT relating to the relevant precautionary measures are still valid. Please note that tourism and hotel establishments will be inspected by DCT Abu Dhabi’s inspectors to verify compliance with these instructions. We urge you to comply with the aforementioned precautionary measures in order to avoid legal action against offenders,” the circular said.

The DCT also oversees museums and certain restaurants and entertainment centres.

Earlier, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, which licenses malls, supermarkets and other commercial facilities like gyms, issued its own circular regarding Green Pass implementation from June 15 onwards. The Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) also announced the roll-out of the system across the emirate’s public parks and beaches.