COVID: Qatar tightens restrictions as cases continue to rise
New rules will come into effect from Friday after the country reported more than 900 positive cases again.
Qatar has announced tighter COVID-19-related restrictions amidst a rising number of cases in the last few weeks.
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.
On Wednesday, the country reported 940 new cases, taking the total number of positive cases to more than 186,000 since the start of the pandemic.
MOPH statement on the latest development of Covid-19 in Qatar. #QNA pic.twitter.com/1FGg2A8ZzI
— Qatar News Agency (@QNAEnglish) April 7, 2021
The circulation of coronavirus variants first identified in the UK and South Africa has contributed to the spread of COVID-19, according to Abdullatif Al Khal, the deputy chief medical officer of Hamad Medical Corporation.
In addition to keeping gyms, swimming pools, water parks and spas shut, the new guidelines have now ordered the closure of museums, cinemas, libraries and nurseries.
Cafes and restaurants will no longer be allowed to serve food indoors or in open-air spaces.
Public gatherings at parks and beaches will be banned. Individual sports activities such as running and cycling will be permitted.
Social gatherings will not be allowed at homes or other closed spaces. Up to five vaccinated people will be permitted to meet in open spaces.
According to the new guidelines, private and public workspaces will operate at no more than 50 percent capacity. The rest of the staff should work from home.
Mosques will remain open for daily and Friday prayers, while the special Tarawih prayers performed during the holy month of Ramadan should only be conducted at home.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Al Khal said Qatar was in the middle of a second wave. He added that the country is witnessing an increase in the number of daily infections and acute cases requiring hospital and intensive care admission over the past two weeks.
The move to tighten restrictions comes after a Qatari health official called for a full nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Qatar has continued to report an increasing number of infections on a daily basis despite reimposing a series of coronavirus-related restrictions on education, leisure and business activities including closing gyms and restricting restaurant capacity.
In February, the authorities announced a 32-point plan to curb the surge in cases that raised fears of a new wave of infections.