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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Government service complexes halt evening work as part of latest Covid-19 measures


New regulations have been introduced to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country. 

Government service complexes will no longer be open during evening hours, the ministry of labour announced, as part of restrictions imposed to battle the second Covid-19 wave that has seen an increasing number of deaths and Intensive Care Unit admissions at hospitals.

The service providers at these complexes include Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Economy and Industry, Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Ministry of Municipality and Environment and Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation [Kahramaa].

“It has been decided to stop providing services in government services complexes during the evening period, starting from Sunday 11/4/2021 until further notice,” the ministry of labour said in a tweet, noting the move is in line with the latest decisions.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry issued a list of entities and establishments that are allowed to operate with at more than 50% capacity, exempting them from a workforce reduction of the Cabinet’s decision on Wednesday. 

Pharmacies and clinics, factories, maintenance companies, food and subsidised supply retail outlets, e-commerce companies, catering companies, telecom companies, and companies operating in state-run projects as well as bakeries.

Financial institutions licensed by Qatar Central Bank, restaurants (deliveries and takeaways), petrol stations, and logistic services companies and firms operating at seaports, airports and customs services are also exempted from the 50% capacity regulation.

The decision is “in the interest of the safety of all citizens and residents,” the ministry said.

Qatari health authorities introduced a new set of restrictions following a major surge in Covid-19 cases that has resulted in an alarming increase in deaths last week, on the same day that official figures marked the highest daily death toll since the pandemic started last year.

The regulations were part of the fourth phase of a gradual return to lockdown conditions in Qatar to curb the spread of the virus and flatten the curve.

The new restrictions include decreasing workforce capacity to 50% of the total number of employees for both the private and public sector, with the remaining workforce to work remotely from their homes, closing all dine-in options in restaurants and coffee shops, closing barbershops, beauty salons and cinemas and postponing all conferences, exhibitions and events until further notice.

Second wave

Qatar is currently grappling with a more severe Covid-19 wave than that witnessed in 2020, with over 400 cases currently being tended to by doctors in the Intensive Care Unit as well as 900+ daily reported cases.

In December, eight people died from the novel coronavirus. The number decreased to three in January before shooting up to 10 in February, including an 11-year-old child. However, since March, over 60 people have succumbed to the virus.

Health officials say the newly-found UK strain is the cause for the increasing number of cases and ICU admissions.

When compared to the original virus, the UK variant, a more deadly strain, has 23 mutations and spreads up to 70% more easily, experts say. This has resulted in a sharp increase in Covid-19 positive cases in Qatar, going from 300-400 daily reported cases in February to over 900 in April so far.

Last week, Qatar also saw the highest daily Covid-19 death toll since the global health crisis erupted.

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