UAE authorities have prohibited Emiratis from travelling to 14 countries, including India, amidst fears of the highly infectious Delta coronavirus variant.
Other countries in the list are Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria.
The directive was issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation (MoFAIC) and the National Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Management Authority (NCEMA).
UAE diplomatic missions in all these countries, official delegations and previously authorised business and technical delegates were exempt from the decision.
The authorities have also permitted travel for emergency treatment cases, with India being one of the most popular destinations among Emiratis for medical purpose.
While the Covid-19 infection numbers continue to be under control in the UAE, one out of three new cases were the Delta variant.
On Thursday, 1,675 new cases were reported, with 1,556 recoveries and eight deaths.
With school year ending in the UAE in the first week of July, it is the peak travel time as many citizens and expats head out to escape the heat.
In a joint statement, both authorities stressed on the need for citizens to comply with all Covid-related precautionary protocols, not just at home, but also at the destination country.
The statement said that Emiratis infected abroad will be allowed to return after getting the necessary approvals from the relevant authorities in the host country as well as the UAE.
Meanwhile, Air India announced that its offer for a free date change for cancelled flights from India will be extended until July 21.
In a statement posted on its website, Air India said: “Restrictions imposed by the UAE Government banning entry into UAE other than UAE Nationals and exempted category between 25th April 2021 up to 04th May 2021.
“In view of the same, one free date change to passengers holding 098 documents for sector India-UAE-India, during the period of ban will be allowed. Difference in fare, if applicable, will be charged. In case passenger wants to cancel the ticket, NIL cancellation charges will apply.”
Air India is currently operating around 100 flights weekly to the UAE under the air bubble agreement after travel restrictions were implemented by the UAE government.
These flights can only accept passengers eligible for travel to the UAE under exempted categories.