Qatar announces new restrictions amid fears of second COVID wave

Health authorities announce a new 32-point plan to curb the coronavirus spread amid a surge in cases.

Qatar has reported 152,491, infections, including 249 deaths, since the start of the pandemic [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]
Qatar has reported 152,491, infections, including 249 deaths, since the start of the pandemic [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

Qatar has announced new restrictions amid a surge in coronavirus cases that authorities said could lead to a second wave of infections.

The 32-point plan, made public on Wednesday, includes provisions to limit at 80 percent the number of staff present at their workplace.

Among other things, it also reimposes a ban on indoor weddings, with some exceptions.

The announcement came as Qatar announced a large increase in the number of hospitalisation cases in January compared with the previous month.

“We have seen an 85 percent increase in January compared to December in the number of COVID-19 patients being admitted to hospital,” Dr Abdullatif al-Khal, chair of the National Health Strategic Group on COVID-19 and head of Infectious Diseases at Hamad Medical Corporation, said.

“In December, Qatar has seen a gradual and consistent increase in the number of new daily infections. Additionally, and of great concern, is the recent increase in both the number of COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital and the number of patients admitted to ICU.

“The data over the next few days and week will tell us more, but these increases appear to be the early signs of a potential second wave in Qatar.”

On Wednesday, health authorities announced 396 cases, bringing the total number of infections since the outbreak to 152,491, including 249 deaths.

Qatari authorities announced that the new restrictions would come into effect from February 4, while restrictions on weddings will come into force from February 7.

List of COVID restrictions

Below is the list of restrictions that were announced on Tuesday, as reported by Qatar News Agency:

1- Continuing with the Cabinet decision, which requires that, depending on the need for work, no more than 80 percent of the total number of employees in the government sector working at their workplace, while the remaining number of employees work remotely from their homes or upon request, depending on the circumstances.

2- Continuing the Cabinet decision, which requires that, depending on the need for work, no more than 80 percent of the total number of employees in the private sector working at their workplace, while the remaining number of them work remotely from their homes.

3- Continuing the Cabinet decree, as for employees and workers in the government and private sectors to allow meetings to be held with the attendance of no more than 15 persons, and to adhere to procedures and precautionary measures.

4- All citizens and residents to continue wearing masks when leaving the house for any reason, unless the person is alone while driving a vehicle.

5- All citizens and residents continue to activate the EHTERAZ application on smartphones when leaving the house for any reason.

6- Continuing the opening of Mosques for daily prayers and Friday prayers, while toilets and ablution facilities remain closed.

7- No more than 5 people in closed places and no more than 15 people in open places, during visits, in condolences and in gatherings.

8- No more than 15 people in winter camps.

9- Not to hold wedding parties in closed and open spaces until further notice, this excludes home or majlis weddings, in the presence of no more than 10 people in closed places and 20 people in open spaces who are relatives of the spouses, notifying the Ministry of Interior of the date and place of the wedding ceremony and pledging to abide by the procedures and precautionary measures according to the mechanism determined by the ministry.

10- Closure of playgrounds and sports equipment in public parks, beaches and the corniche, with gatherings being limited to 15 people.

11- Continue with the decision of no more than four people allowed in a vehicle, including the driver of the vehicle, with the exception of families when leaving and moving in vehicles.

12- Continuation of what was decided to reduce the number of people who are transported by buses to half the bus capacity, while taking precautions and precautionary measures.

13- Continuing to operate metro services and public transport with a capacity not exceeding 30%.

14- Reducing the capacity of driving schools to not exceeding 25% .

15- Continuing the work of cinemas and theaters with a capacity not exceeding 30% and not allowing entry to persons under 18 years old.

16- Reducing the capacity of educational centers and private training centers to 30%.

17- Reducing the capacity of nurseries and childcare to 30%.

18- Reducing the capacity of public museums and libraries to 50%.

19- Only allow individual educational sessions to be held in centers designated for people with special needs.

20- Training for professional sports teams is limited to no more than 40 people in open spaces and 20 people in closed places, with the presence of the audience prohibited.

21- Obtaining prior approval from the Ministry of Public Health to organise local and international sporting events, while prohibiting public attendance in closed spaces and allowing their presence in open spaces with a capacity not exceeding 20%.

22- Obtaining prior approval from the Ministry of Public Health to hold exhibitions, conferences and various events.

23- Continuing the work of commercial complexes with a capacity that does not exceed 50%, with the closure of all common restaurant yards inside the commercial complexes, and allowing these restaurants to make external orders or deliver them inside the restaurant only.

24- Allowing restaurants and cafes to provide food and beverages indoors with a capacity that does not exceed 15%, and restaurants with a “Clean Qatar” programme with a capacity not exceeding 30%, and allowing all restaurants and cafes to provide food and drinks in their open spaces with capacity not exceeding 50%.

25- Stopping the services of renting boats, tourist yachts and pleasure boats. Owners of boats and personal yachts are obligated, if they are used, that no more than 15 people are on board.

26- Reducing the capacity of popular markets to 50%.

27- Reducing the capacity of wholesale markets to 30%.

28- Reducing the capacity of hairdressing and beauty salons to 30%.

29- Closing down amusement parks and all entertainment centers in commercial complexes inside closed places, and allowing them to work in open spaces only, with a capacity not exceeding 30%.

30- Continuing the work of health clubs and physical training clubs with a capacity not exceeding 30%, and the continued provision of massage services in five-star hotels only with a capacity not exceeding 30%, and the closure of saunas and steam rooms, Jacuzzi services and Moroccan and Turkish baths.

31- Closing all indoor swimming pools and indoor water parks, and continuing to operate outdoor swimming pools and outdoor water parks with a capacity not exceeding 30%.

32- The work of private health care facilities continues to provide all their services.

Source : Al Jazeera

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