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COVID-19 Developments in Qatar

May 20, 2020

The Government of Qatar, acting through various ministries and agencies, continues to monitor the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and has implemented a coordinated set of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Qatar Supreme Committee for Crisis Management, in its coordinating role, has initiated legislative and regulatory actions to safeguard Qatari citizens, residents and visitors from harm. As of May 20, 2020, the following measures are in effect:

Travel to Qatar

Only Qatari nationals, their children and spouses, and holders of permanent Qatari residence permits may travel to Qatar, provided that they self-quarantine for a period of 14 days once they arrive in the country. These individuals must provide at least 72 hours’ notice to the Qatari Embassies in the countries of departure ahead of their travel. Individuals are still permitted to transit in Qatar if they are traveling to a country other than Qatar. Cargo also remains unaffected.

Closures

The Qatar Supreme Committee for Crisis Management has announced that all forms of social gathering are banned, including but not limited to those occurring at the Corniche, public parks and beaches. It has also enacted the following measures relating to business closures:

Enforcement

The Qatari police and other services with appropriate jurisdiction are enforcing applicable laws and regulations through:

Additionally, the Qatar Ministry of Interior has launched a  smartphone application, "Ehteraz," which Qatar citizens and residents are required to download on their phones by May 22. Ehteraz will assist in identifying disease transmission chains, alerting individuals and stakeholders to expedite the provision of medical support, and prioritizing testing. Non-compliance can result in criminal and/or civil penalties, including a fine of up to USD 55,000.

Reduction in Workforce

The Qatar Council of Ministers has decided that no more than 20% of both the public and private sector workforce may work from the workplace. The remaining 80% of the workforce is to work from home/remotely. The following measures have also been implemented:

Banks

The Qatar Central Bank is also taking action to relieve the pressure on those industry sectors hit hardest by COVID-19.

Assistance to the Private Sector

As part of a 75 billion Qatari riyal stimulus program aimed at providing financial and economic incentives to businesses, the Government of Qatar is directing three billion Qatari Riyals to local banks to guarantee (for a period of up to three years) loans taken by private companies to meet their short-term payment obligations for the next three months, including salaries and rent. The program will be administered by the Qatar Development Bank.

Any organization that is 100% privately owned and incorporated in Qatar with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry may apply, except if such company operates in the real estate or construction/contracting sectors. Furthermore, a personal guarantee is required by all shareholders of the entity holding 10% or more of the shares. More information about the program can be found here.

Amendments to Infectious Disease Law

On March 26, 2020, the Amir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani issued Law No. 9 of 2020 (“new law”) amending certain provisions of Law No. 17 of 1990 on Protection from Infectious Diseases (“1990 law”). The 1990 law will still be in effect, subject to those new law amendments. 

More information about measures taken by the Government of Qatar can be found here.

Miller Canfield is prepared to assist you with any concerns you may have regarding the effects of COVID-19 on the Qatar legal landscape. Please contact Lana Yaghi or Pawel Chudzicki with further questions.

This information is based on the facts and guidance available at the time of publication, and may be subject to change.