Community members in Abu Dhabi, an emirate that has followed the strictest Covid-19 precautionary measures and restrictions in the country, are in a jovial mood.

They can now enter public places like shopping malls, restaurants, entertainment venues and establishments without the need to present the green pass on their Al Hosn app – a requirement implemented all the way back in June 2021.

Importantly, this means that residents no longer need to do a monthly PCR test to maintain the green colour on their app. Not needing a green pass and the wearing of masks being made optional at all open and closed facilities are among the several Covid-19 measures being eased across the country from 6 am on Monday, November,

After closing hours on Sunday, most shopping mall operators tore down the stickers pasted on the entrances informing residents that the ‘green pass’ is a mandatory requirement to access the facility. A staff member who removed one of the stickers said that it was a “happy moment”, as people can now visit the mall with greater peace of mind.

“At times, people wouldn’t be aware that their green pass has expired. Some [passes] would be just a day old, and [residents would] request us to let them in but we couldn’t. We won’t have to turn them back now,” he said.

Residents were delighted as they no longer have to do a PCR test to ensure a valid green status; some even saw it as an optimistic sign of their lives finally returning to normalcy.

Caroline Cheruiyot, a Kenyan expat who has been a resident of Abu Dhabi for the past 3 years, was actually expecting relaxed regulations like these, as Covid-19 cases have been on a constant decline.

“I was kind of anticipating this news for days now. Recently, the use of EDE scanners (to detect positive Covid-19 cases) was stopped. Now we don’t need a green pass, which means people [don’t need] to take a PCR test every 30 days.

I am excited and looking forward to visiting malls with my friends soon, and not seeing that green pass poster at the entry points.”

Moroccan expat Soukaina Aouane, a resident of the capital for seven years, thanked the government and health authorities for safeguarding the lives of community members.

“The government announced these measures after an exhaustive review of the pandemic situation. We are finally turning a corner on the pandemic, which is awesome! No green pass and the wearing of masks being made optional at places of worship, among others, are [positive signs]. They give us residents the confidence that we may get our lives back to normal.”

Pradeep KP, Indian expat and a long-time resident of the country, was delighted as yet another restriction has bee lifted – and slowly, but surely, life returns to the glory days of 2019.

“I felt [elated] after seeing the breaking news that all restrictions have been removed. It is the best news ever. But I will still be careful when I am in crowded places; we still [have] more than 200 Covid-19 positive cases, so the virus is still around.

But for now, I will rejoice at [this] normalcy. I will be going to the malls soon without the need to show my green pass status. I will relish that moment: it has taken a while to come.”

‘A welcomed move’

Mall operators welcomed the decision, which will restore a sense of normalcy among the public and in markets.

“This is a great step from the decision makers in the government. Thanks to all the initiatives taken by authorities, coronavirus has been contained, and that’s why restrictions have been removed,” said Wajeb Al Khoury, Director of Line Investments and Property – the shopping mall and management division of Abu Dhabi-based Lulu Group International.

“At times, people don’t have a green pass and can’t enter the malls. But now, no restrictions for entry will bring more customers back to malls. These positive sentiments are good for all sectors, including shopping centres and tourism,” Al Khoury said.

Mayank M. Pal, general manager, Khalidiyah Mall and Al Raha Mall, Abu Dhabi, said the green pass stickers have been removed from all entry points of the malls.

“It is indeed a very welcoming step”, he said. “We are welcoming our customers back like we did during the pre-pandemic days. We thank the UAE Government for all the measures taken for assuring public safety.”

‘Wear masks in crowded places’

Dr V.R. Anil Kumar, medical director, Phoenix Hospital, Mohamed Bin Zayed City, noted that the ease in restrictions will positively impact the mental health of the emirate’s residents.

“These restrictions were imposed for a reason, and now we are in the recovery phase of the pandemic. No green pass entry requirements and a further ease on the use of masks will have a positive impact on the minds of the people.

I would still recommend that people, especially those more vulnerable, wear masks in crowded places. Also, with flu season peaking, I request people to take the vaccine shot, which has been made available for free.”