Qatari authorities have extended the mandatory quarantine requirements for all arrivals into the country through Dec. 31 to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Individuals arriving from "high-risk" countries - including nationals, residents, and visa holders - have to test negative for COVID-19 no more than 48 hours before travel. They will then be subject to seven days of home quarantine. If travelers cannot obtain a COVID-19-free test from their country of departure, they must quarantine themselves in a hotel for seven days before taking the COVID-19 test, and then undergo home quarantine for another week. Those from "low-risk" countries, on the other hand, have to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival and home quarantine for one week. All travelers will have to undergo a second COVID-19 test after completing their home quarantine. If the test results are positive, authorities will transfer individuals to a government facility for isolation.
Qatar is currently in the second part of Phase 4 of its plan to lift COVID-19 restrictions. Under this stage, authorities increased the capacity of cinemas and theaters to 30 percent and reduced the capacity at gyms, health clubs and public swimming pools to 30 percent. Measures that remain in place from earlier phases include:
- Entry to Qatar is only allowed for nationals, permanent residents, and those with pre-approved entry permits.
- Resuming public transport and metro services at 30 percent capacity.
- Increasing the permitted capacity at restaurants to 30 percent.
- Opening of all malls and shopping centers with normal hours. The capacity at malls is limited to 50 percent.
- Allowing weddings with a maximum of 40 people indoors and 80 people outdoors.
- Allowing gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.
- Allowing all mosques to resume daily and Friday prayers.
- Maintaining the capacity of employees at workplaces at 80 percent.
- Increasing the capacity of private health clinics to 100 percent.
- Allowing public libraries to open with normal hours and full capacity.
Officials could reimpose restrictions or delay the phases depending on the COVID-19 cases.
Wearing of facemasks in public remains mandatory nationwide. The rule applies to all individuals except those exercising or participating in sports. Individuals who do not comply with the regulation will face fines and imprisonment. Authorities also require residents to download the EHTERAZ mobile application for COVID-19 updates and contact tracing.
National carrier Qatar Airways (QR) has resumed outbound flights to select destinations. Qatari citizens and permanent residents can travel outside the country and return at any time.
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.
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.