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Traffic flowed smoothly towards Abu Dhabi after the removal of COVID-19 related checkpoints on Sunday Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: After more than a year of COVID-19 restrictions at the Abu Dhabi border, motorists drove into the capital city on Sunday without having to slow down and present their test results to the authorities.

The entry restrictions have been scrapped from Sunday by the Abu Dhabi Emergencies, Crisis and Disasters Committee for the COVID-19 pandemic, with the authority attributing the removal of restrictions to the drop in positive COVID-19 cases, and the activation of the Green Pass system at public venues in the emirate.

Checkpoint removal

The checkpoints on the roads, which had been in place since last summer, including at Ghantoot on the E11 Abu Dhabi-Dubai road, had already been removed before midday, and there was smooth traffic flow all the way into downtown Abu Dhabi.

“I saw the authorities dismantling the checkpoints as I drove into Abu Dhabi this morning, and it was refreshing not to have to stop along the way and present my results on Al Hosn,” Subhash Velayudhan, 45, a lead engineer from India, told Gulf News.

Velayudhan has, in fact, been living and staying within Abu Dhabi since last summer in order to avoid the frequent COVID-19 tests and their associated costs. “I found accommodation in Abu Dhabi, and have been driving down to my family in Dubai every weekend. So the lifting of restrictions, and the indication that the COVID-19 cases are decreasing, is very good news indeed.”

Easier travel

Mohammad Naeem, 34, a business development executive from Bangladesh, said he was looking forward to meeting his friends in the capital, whom he had not been able to meet since relocating to Dubai last year. “I have to go down to Abu Dhabi at least once a week for work, so I had to get regular PCR tests despite being fully vaccinated. But I haven’t taken my family over to meet our friends. We hope to go over soon now,” he said.

Reason for introduction

Introduced in May 2020, the entry restrictions had been designed to curb the COVID-19 outbreak by preventing infected people from entering the emirate. The most recent regulations had required tests of 48-hour validity to be presented at the Abu Dhabi border, with additional follow-up testing for unvaccinated residents who continued to stay on in the emirate.

Online cheer

Residents and regular commuters shared videos online of the moment at which restrictions were eased - a line of police vehicles could be seen driving away, with other motorists honking to mark the occasion. Others shared how they had been presented with flowers at the border as they crossed into Abu Dhabi.

During its implementation, the Abu Dhabi entry restrictions had continued to be one of the most frequently discussed topics on social media groups.

Abu Dhabi Police also commemorated the occasion with a post on its social media platforms, thanking Abu Dhabi authorities for ensuring safety amid the pandemic, and appreciating residents and commuters for adhering to all COVID-19 safety measures.

“Abu Dhabi Police called on members of the community to continue to cooperate with the authorities [henceforth], and support efforts made to enhance the security and safety of all,” the post read.