Visitors to Dubai’s World Expo won’t be required to provide Covid vaccination certificates or get tested to enter one of the world’s biggest in-person events since the pandemic began.
The exhibition, expected to attract 25 million visits over six months, will though mostly require people to keep their masks on and respect social distancing rules, an Expo spokesperson told Bloomberg News.
“While vaccination is encouraged, visitors to Expo are not currently required to provide proof of immunization or a negative PCR test,” the spokesperson said. “However, we will continue to monitor and adjust these measures as necessary as the situation evolves.”
Dubai, the business hub of the United Arab Emirates, is keen to show it’s up and running, after the pandemic hit hard an economy built on international commerce and finance. The UAE is open to all visitors as long as they provide a negative virus result, with some allowed to have a test at Dubai airport after they land. They are expected to self-isolate until they get their results.
It has rolled out one of the world’s fastest vaccination programs, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker. Daily cases in the country have been running below 1,000 a day since late August.
Dubai’s Expo approach contrasts with those of other countries like the U.K., which announced it is considering mandating vaccine passports to access large venues, or France where the constitutional court backed Emmanuel Macron’s decision to require proof of vaccination or a negative test in order to eat out or travel.
In neighboring Abu Dhabi, another of the emirates making up the UAE, some public spaces are restricted to those who have been vaccinated. Dubai, meanwhile, has stayed largely open since coming out of lockdown more than a year ago.
Across the Expo site, dozens of checkpoints will ensure people provide a pass to enter, while visitors will have to wear masks and abide by stringent social distancing regulations. Sanitizing stations will be scattered in every corner.
The exhibition is also using robots and wearable technology to assist with visitor-facing interactions including ticketing and queuing. All members of staff around the Expo site have already received both doses of Covid vaccine.
Dubai in 2013 beat off competition from countries including Brazil and Turkey to host Expo 2020. The world’s tallest tower, Burj Khalifa, was illuminated with fireworks in celebration.
The emirate spent billions of dollars to prepare infrastructure that now resembles a small town spanning the length of hundreds of football stadiums.
The exhibition, initially set for October 2020, was meant to attract millions of visitors and provide a boost to the local economy. But as the pandemic hit, halting the the global economy, the government postponed the event and reconsidered its targets.
(Corrects date in final paragraph to October from April.)