Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Qatar ease restrictions related to COVID-19; government offices to reopen from May 31. Other measures remain in place.

This alert affects Qatar

This alert began 29 May 2020 01:45 GMT and is scheduled to expire 12 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport, travel, and business disruptions

Summary
Qatari authorities will reopen government offices nationwide from May 31 as part of measures to ease restrictions related to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The offices will, however, open from 0700-1300 and at a reduced capacity of 20 percent. Most employees are still required to work remotely.

Restrictions on commercial activities remain in place nationwide through at least May 30. All shops, except pharmacies, food supply stores, and food deliveries, are closed during this period. Authorities also require residents to download the EHTERAZ mobile application for COVID-19 updates and contact tracing. Vehicles must also not contain more than two people, with a maximum of three in cases of chauffeured vehicles.

The wearing of face masks in public remains mandatory nationwide. The rule applies to all individuals except those driving alone in a car. Individuals who do not comply with the regulation will face fines and imprisonment.

Authorities in Doha previously reopened streets 1-32 of the industrial area, with entry and exit regulations in place, May 6. Companies were allowed to resume work, and individuals working in the zone were allowed to enter and leave the area.

Previously enacted measures in Qatar include:

  • Extending a temporary suspension of non-emergency medical services provided by private health clinics.
  • Extending work-from-home periods for nonessential employees until further notice.
  • An indefinite suspension of inbound flights to the country. Transit and cargo flights are exempt from the measure. Foreigners are barred from entering the country. However, residents returning from abroad will be permitted entry and required to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Qatari nationals in Qatar are not allowed to exit the country.
  • The closure of schools, universities, and all modes of public transportation until further notice.



Background and Analysis
Qatar's travel restrictions and preventive measures are similar to actions other governments are taking globally in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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