Abu Dhabi: It has been four days since Abu Dhabi rolled out its Green Pass system to enhance COVID-19 protective measures at public venues. Aside from a few stray cases, the majority of residents have settled into the routine of whipping out their phones and displaying the Al Hosn app while entering malls, restaurants, gyms, parks and even supermarkets.
The Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Committee for managing the COVID-19 pandemic has billed the Green Pass system as a means to “return to normal life” and used it to increase capacity at public places and events in the emirate. Residents also said they felt safer stepping out, especially with young children or elderly family members.
“I have been fully vaccinated, but I would be particularly anxious when I went out with my nine-month-old child. I would disinfect all possible surfaces and avoid touching my baby until I could be sure that I had been as careful as possible. But seeing these multiple entry checks, I worry less. It is reassuring, especially when they are coupled with the regular PCR tests done for workers in public spaces,” Touqa Naesah, 24, a dentist from Syria, told Gulf News.
In fact, many public spaces now have three layers of checks as preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19. For instance, shopping malls and amusements parks not only have temperature checks and the Green Pass in place, but also exercise EDE scanning at entry points to detect COVID-19 infection markers.
Juzen Amparado, 42, a medical technologist from the Philippines, was out shopping with her husband and son and said she believed the measures would help curb the spread of coronavirus.
“As a frontline worker, I feel that getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the way forward and while the green pass system does not mandate the shots, it provides a push in the right direction. As a member of the public, I certainly feel safer going out with my family. In fact, the COVID-19 safety measures in Abu Dhabi are very comprehensive,” she said.
“These entry rules are meant to protect us all and are the need of the hour, even if they mean that people have to get PCR-tested more frequently. I have recently been to Bahrain and I see other countries also have similar checks in place for public spaces,” said Hamdan Al Zaabi, 51, an Emirati oil and gas professional.
At Al Wahda Mall in the capital, the process of entry appeared smooth and unimpeded. Visitors queued up at the entrance, then flashed their Al Hosn status and stood by for an EDE scan. Only one visitor who did not have his pre-teen children registered on his Al Hosn app was asked to register them first or come back without them.
“These instances are quite rare, especially as residents have had a month or more to comply with the new protocols. We expect footfall to increase over September, especially as all these preventive measures mean that they can be reassured about their safety,” said Navaneeth Sudhakaran, general manager at the mall.
Another waitress at a popular standalone cafe in the capital said that most people are now familiar with the Green Pass and others are willing to wait outside to pick up their beverages. “The system has been easy to implement and I feel safe serving people,” she said.
How does the Green Pass system work?
The Green Pass system is based on the Al Hosn app, the UAE’s official vaccine registry that also includes COVID-19 testing details. The app designates one of three colours to the users based on their COVID-19 test and vaccination status. Only those with a green status are permitted entry to public spaces.
Green: Indicates that the person is among the following three categories:
1. Vaccinated person aged 16 years or more who has tested negative on a COVID-19 PCR test that is valid for 30 days. To be considered as vaccinated, a person ought to have received both doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine and must have taken a booster dose within seven months of taking the second dose.
2. A person with an official vaccination exemption who has tested negative on a PCR test with seven-day validity. New residency permit holders fall in this category, and have 60-day grace period to be vaccinated.
3. A child less than 16 years old.
Grey: A vaccinated person whose PCR test validity has expired, or someone who has not received a booster vaccine dose within seven months of the second vaccine dose.
Red: Unvaccinated person above 16 years and without an official vaccination exemption.
Current capacity restrictions:
80 per cent at shopping malls, entertainment centres, cultural centres, museums, cinemas, restaurants and cafes. This includes Green Pass activation.
50 per cent at health clubs, sport academies, gyms and spas. This includes Green Pass activation.
60 per cent at public and private events, including social, sport, corporate and entertainment events. This includes Green Pass activation and a negative PCR test received within 48 hours of the event.
Maximum of ten persons allowed at a single table.
Maximum of 100 people allowed at weddings.
Only Three passengers allowed in a five-seater taxi.
Only four passengers allowed in a seven-seater taxi.