DUBAI: Expo 2020 visitors will need a coronavirus vaccination or a negative PCR test to enter, organizers in Dubai said yesterday, two weeks before the giant event opens. The six-month world fair, featuring exhibitions by 192 countries, is expected to attract more than 20 million international visitors when it opens on October 1 after a year's COVID delay.

PCR tests will be free for ticketholders with a "network" of testing centers available across the city, organizers said. The new rules apply to visitors aged 18 and over. "By updating our vaccination and testing requirements, we are opening up a world of discovery and education for every visitor from every corner of the planet," Expo 2020 director-general Reem Al-Hashimy said in a statement.

"This enhanced measure is responsible, agile and necessary as we prepare to open our doors to the world," she added. Vaccines are mandatory for all Expo staff and employees of international participants, while the site will have mandatory masks, two-meter social distancing rules and sanitization stations. The United Arab Emirates has administered 19 million vaccination doses, with 80 percent of the population fully vaccinated. The Gulf country has reported 730,135 cases and 2,066 deaths. - AFP