Qatar reimposes coronavirus-related restrictions

New rules, announced after the UK variant of the virus contributed to the spread of COVID-19 in the Gulf nation, will come into force on Friday.

Souq Waqif Doha, Qatar [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]
Qatar on Wednesday reported 570 new cases of COVID-19 [File: Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

Qatar has announced a series of coronavirus-related restrictions on education, leisure and business activities including closing gyms and restricting restaurant capacity.

The measures, announced in a cabinet statement on Wednesday, will come into effect on Friday as the country battles a surge in new COVID-19 infections.

Qatar on Wednesday reported 570 new cases with daily totals steadily rising in recent weeks. The circulation of the UK variant of the virus has contributed significantly to the spread of COVID-19, according to the ministry of public health.

The small Gulf country in January recorded an 85-percent increase in the number of COVID-19 patients being admitted to hospital compared with the previous month.

In addition to the closing of gyms, swimming pools, water parks, and spas will also be shut down until further notice.

Playgrounds and exercise equipment in public parks will be off-limits, beaches and the Corniche will be closed, and no more than five people will be allowed to congregate in open-air areas unless they live in the same household.

Entry to public museums and libraries will be restricted to 30 percent, while indoor restaurants can seat only 15 percent of their capacity.

Cinemas and theatres will be operating at 20-percent capacity, while children below the age of 12 will not be allowed in shopping malls.

Any indoor social gatherings will be banned until further notice. Weddings will be banned altogether.

Workplaces will continue to operate with no more than 80-percent capacity, while private schools and other educational institutions must again switch to online teaching.

Last month, the authorities announced a 32-point plan to curb the surge in cases that raised fears of a new wave of infections.

Source: Al Jazeera