International workers in the United Arab Emirates will be able to renew their work visas without the usual mandatory medical tests. The announcement came after the UAE closed down its medical fitness centres as it tries to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE), along with the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP,) and the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (FAIC) announced on Wednesday, March 25 that work visas and residence permits will be renewed automatically, upon payment of the fee.  Workers can pay their fees through authorized payment channels, after which they can continue as legal residents.

The new rule applies only to foreign workers employed by companies in the UAE as well as foreign domestic workers, VisaGuide.World reports.

This decision is the latest on a series of rules taken by the UAE government to fight the spread of the COVID-19.

All malls and markets in the UAE have also been closed for a two-week period. Only pharmacies, supermarkets, and open markets, such as meat markets are allowed to operate. Restaurants will not be allowed to serve customers in their premises, only for deliveries and takeaways.

Last week, citizens were advised to stay indoors as public utilities, public transport and metro services were disinfected. The “national disinfection program” took place over the weekend, starting on Thursday night until Sunday morning.

Earlier in the month, the FAIC temporarily suspended the issuance of all visas on arrival and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation announced temporarily banned UAE citizens from travelling abroad. The restrictions are valid until further notice.

Other countries have also enforced their travel restrictions. The EU closed off the external borders of the Schengen Zone, and many of its internal borders as well. The USA, which now has the highest reported number of coronavirus cases in the world, has banned travel to and from the EU until at least mid-April.

See a map of worldwide travel restrictions as a result of coronavirus.

The UAE marks 570 cases of the coronavirus as of March 30, and three deaths.

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