Dubai U-turns on expo rules, will now require vaccines or tests

Visitors to Dubai’s World Expo will now be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or get tested in order to enter the event.

Tourists wear protective masks near the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE, on Wednesday, January 27, 2021. Dubai replaced its top health official on Sunday after coronavirus cases in the UAE spiked in recent weeks [Christopher Pike/Bloomberg]

Visitors to Dubai’s World Expo will now be required to provide Covid vaccination certificates or get tested to enter the event, under new rules issued days after organizers said inoculations weren’t needed.

Visitors will now be required to present proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours, Expo 2020’s organizers said Wednesday. Those who aren’t vaccinated and haven’t been tested can get a free PCR test at the event site.

The move would mark a shift from last week when the organizers said they “encourage” vaccination, but visitors would not be required to provide proof of immunization or a negative PCR test. The Expo is one of the world’s biggest in-person events since the pandemic began and is expected to attract 25 million visits over six months.

Across the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part, wearing masks is a must in all public places and most events require negative tests or vaccination proof. The number of cases in the Gulf country has gone below 1,000 a day since late August.

“As we prepare to welcome tourists to the UAE and visitors to Expo 2020, we need to build on our successes in combating Covid-19,” the event’s director general Reem Al Hashimy said in the statement. “This enhanced measure is responsible, agile and necessary as we prepare to open our doors to the world.”

The Expo, 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 global economy, the government postponed the event and reconsidered its targets.

(Updates with details from Expo 2020 statement throughout.)

Source: Bloomberg