The United Arab Emirates is initiating sweeping measures in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus with a ban on all citizens going overseas until further notice.
The move, which was implemented on Wednesday and Thursday, will also see the cessation of visas-on-arrival and the imposition of a mandatory 14-day quarantine on anyone who enters the UAE, with prosecution promised for any violators.
The measure, which is intended to be temporary, has been enacted for the sake of the health and safety of UAE citizens, according to a statement issued yesterday by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
The UAE suspension of visas, which is set to carry on for an indefinite period of time, will impact the citizens of over 72 countries but will not affect current residents of the UAE.
Diplomatic passport holders are the only exemptions from this suspension.
Visitor visas issued before 17th March have also been cancelled, travel agencies say.
There have been 113 cases of coronavirus in the country, which is host to 9.4 million people, with 26 having recovered from the infection.
Attorney general Hamad Al Shamsi says that legal action will be taken against anyone who violates quarantine and ignores precautionary measures, with authorities encouraging the use of delivery services for essential goods.
The UAE is among a number of states in the Gulf that have been implementing sweeping measures in a bid to control the spread of coronavirus, which has infected over 200,000 people all over the world and killed over 8,000.
Saudi Arabia has also banned overseas travel for citizens in a bid to stop the spread.
All facets of life in the UAE have been impacted by the crisis, with businesses, schools, places of worship, public parks and gyms shutting down.
Tourism and hospitality, in addition to entertainment, transportation, food and beverage, and retail industries, is vital to the UAE economy, and especially for the commercial capital Dubai.
The ban on travel follows many nations closing their borders and others going into complete lockdown, particularly European countries.
All external borders in the European Union have been closed for 30 days, and a greater number of countries are advising citizens not to engage in any non-essential travel every day.
Major changes to flight networks have been announced by Emirates and Etihad, with terminal two of Abu Dhabi Airport having also recently been closed for the time being.
Opening hours have been restricted in a number of UAE malls, and there have been a number of other temporary closures within the leisure industry in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
When international travel is again allowed in the UAE, it is a good idea for travellers to take out travel insurance coverage.
Travel insurance policies can be very extensive and are a great way to ensure that there are no devastating financial repercussions in the event of unexpected occurrences, such as flights being cancelled and delayed or falling sick while in a foreign country.