DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The United Arab Emirates, home to global business and travel hub Dubai, will ease masking requirements imposed over the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said Monday.
As of Wednesday, the wearing of face masks will no longer be required in public places, except for medical facilities, mosques and public transportation, the official WAM news agency reported.
Masks will also be optional in schools. But food service workers and anyone confirmed or suspected of being infected with COVID-19 are still required to wear one.
The changes were announced by Dr. Saif al-Dhaheri, spokesman for the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority.
He said the agency would also cease providing daily updates on COVID-19 cases while still 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 the UAE’s capital of Abu Dhabi, though, Dubai quickly reopened its doors to travelers.
Dubai has not required proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter and does not require a negative virus test to enter most places. This approach has not come without a cost. The UAE was red-listed as a “do not travel” country by the U.K., U.S. and other nations for much of last year.
More than 29.1 million passengers still crisscrossed through Dubai International Airport, or DXB, last year. That’s nowhere near the pre-pandemic milestone of 86.4 million in annual traffic logged by the airport in 2019.