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Qatar eases COVID and entry requirements ahead of World Cup

Travellers no longer have to present COVID tests and pre-register on a government app to enter the country.

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Visitors entering Qatar are not required to pre-register on the government's Ehteraz health application prior to their arrival [Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters]

Travellers visiting Qatar will no longer need a negative PCR or rapid antigen test to enter the country.

The latest relaxation of COVID-related measures take effect from Tuesday, November 1, just 19 days before the World Cup kicks off.

The arriving fans, players, officials, staff and media are by far the biggest influx of visitors seen in Qatar, which has a population of about 2.9 million.

“Visitors are no longer required to present a negative Covid-19 PCR or Rapid Antigen Test result before travelling to Qatar,” a statement from the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said.

Qatari citizens and residents also no longer need to take a PCR or rapid antigen test within 24 hours of returning from abroad, MoPH added.

Visitors entering Qatar are not required to preregister on the government’s Ehteraz health application before their arrival.

In the past, people had to register and submit necessary documents and acquire online approval on Ehteraz to enter the country.

A green health status on Ehteraz is now required to access only the country’s health facilities.

A COVID vaccination certificate is also no longer required to enter Qatar.

Yousef al-Maslamani, medical director of Hamad General Hospital, was quoted by local media as saying the removal of all travel restrictions was due to the fall in the number of COVID cases and deaths.

“Those infected with COVID-19 will be isolated for a total of 10 days at home or in the hotel for travellers in two parts – five days of complete hotel isolation and five days after which we will allow the infected to leave, but with a condition that they must wear mask when having contact with others but free to remove the mask when alone,” al-Maslamani said in a televised interview last week.

Last year’s delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics took place largely behind closed doors, and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics was held in a bio-secure bubble.

Qatari organisers and football’s governing body, FIFA, have said they want the World Cup, beginning on November 20, to be a sign the world is getting over the devastating pandemic.

But the MoPH has previously warned that special measures would be ordered “in the event of a worsening pandemic situation in the country”, such as the emergence of a threatening new variant.

Players and match officials may be forced into a secure “bio-bubble” if COVID cases take off again, with the threat of expulsion from the tournament for those who breach the secure environment, the ministry said last month.

A requirement to wear masks on public transport was scrapped in October and masks are also not compulsory inside the eight World Cup stadiums.

Since the start of the pandemic, Qatar has reported 684 COVID-related deaths, according to MoPH.

Source: Al Jazeera