The world collectively holds its breath as the new variant Omicron sets us all back to a dark time; the situation is even more traumatic to some compared to when the first case of COVID-19 was recorded.
The humongous elephant in the proverbial room is probably when is this all going to end? and are we all going to be stuck in the same endless loop with this vicious virus?
Well here’s the thing, this might be the dimmest of lights at the end of a seemingly never-ending tunnel. But as long as you’re vaccinated, things will obviously be alright. But, if you are unvaccinated, here are 5 major things you can’t do in the MENA region.
Going on about your everyday life
In most GCC countries, most public activities are limited or practically non-existing for the unvaccinated, like entering malls, restaurants, cafes, gyms, etc. There is really no way around it since these countries use apps to consistently check and be up to date with the status of every citizen and ex-pat living in the country. In short, green is clean, green is shown in the app for when you are vaccinated or came out negative in a PCR test that is no longer than three days old.
In the North Africa region, specifically in Egypt officials who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 are banned from government offices and unless they show a negative PCR test. Moreover, Egyptians and foreigners alike are required to present proof of vaccination before entering any governmental institution.
Most or every 9 to 5 job
In the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and most GCC countries the vaccination is mandatory and provided by the government so there is a close to no chance people are not vaccinated because there 9 to 5 works depend on it.
Likewise in Egypt, every governmental job is obligated to vaccinate its workers so they can still clock in their 9 to 5. So, in the rare case that you are unvaccinated and have a government or public sector job, going to work is off the table.
Universities and Schools
The UAE was the leading country in the GCC region to start mandatory vaccination for the whole education sector, as early as the first vaccine was on the market. Every student, faculty member, and staff member got a text saying that entering the premises of the educational institute is forbidden without vaccination with all the locations for the vaccination booths. Sure enough, the rest of the Gulf countries followed suit with vaccinations being compulsory in Saudi Arabia since 1 August 2021, and going to university or school was not possible if unvaccinated.
The same situation is in Egypt, slowly but surely every member of the educational sector is getting mandatory vaccination and booster shots, or else the whole education system is going to come to a halt.
Travel and Tourism
In Egypt, all airports are open, but aircraft disinfection is required. Tourism is limited to resorts with no quarantine needed and health insurance is required.
Tests on arrival depend on recent travel history while fully-vaccinated individuals, except those from high-risk countries, are exempt from taking the PCR test if they have an approved vaccination certificate with a QR code.
However, in the UAE, the restrictions are a bit tighter than that with UAE nationals being banned from traveling without vaccination or booster shots. Also, many countries from across the African continent are banned from traveling to or through Dubai.
In other MENA region countries the travel and tourism bans and restrictions vary but all fall under the same umbrella. So always make sure you have your vaccination and booster shots if you plan on traveling to the area or else “you shall not pass”.
Live events and social activates
There is a couple of major events in the MENA region. In Dubai, Expo 2020, which had a lot of cancelations and delays since COVID-19 hit, is now having a couple of events rescheduled, again, while keeping the main attractions still going but with extra PCR test booths and mandatory green status to be granted entry.
It’s no different for the neighboring country Saudi Arabia with the rest of Riyadh season being delayed, although it started with a big bang and the best response from the audience. Unfortunately, the Omicron variant made it clear that in order to be safe, the biggest event in Saudi has to take a breather.