Published on : Friday, July 24, 2020
Qatar has decided to commence the reopening of its borders to international travellers starting August 1. Citizens and permanent residents will also be allowed to travel in and out of the country from the same date. The decision comes following the gradual lifting of restrictions that was imposed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government Communications Office recently announced that upon reopening Qatar will welcome arrival from countries having low risk of coronavirus infections and it would be mandatory for all travellers to undergo coronavirus testing at the airport.
Visitors will also have to sign a formal pledge to adhere to quarantine at home for a week. After seven days, travellers have to undergo a second test and completion of their quarantine period would be declared if results are negative. If any individual tests positive, they will be transferred to a government facility for isolation. The Ministry of Public Health have also updated a list of safe countries based on public health indicators in Qatar as well as across the globe. The list is also subjected to be reviewed every two weeks.
As of now, the 40 such countries include Turkey, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Malta, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Ireland, Slovenia, Belgium, the UK, Greece, Netherlands, Morocco, Algeria, Canada, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Australia, the Greek Cypriot administration and Andorra. Qatar has also launched an ‘Exceptional Entry Permit’ service to allow residents, who are currently stranded abroad due to return to the country. The service is available on the Qatar Portal and applications to receive the entry permit can be submitted from August 1.
The temporary service will allow employers, whether individuals or companies, government or private sectors, to apply for entry permits for residents and their family members holding QIDs under which they can return to Qatar. On the other hand, visitors who will arrive from countries that are not on the safe list will have to obtain a “virus-free certificate” from an accredited COVID-19 testing facility no more than 48 hours before travelling and adhere to the home quarantine policy when they arrive at Qatar. Individuals who fail to obtain a test from an accredited facility in their country of departure will be be required to quarantine at a hotel at their own expense for a week and undergo a COVID-19 test at the end of the seven days.
Visitors with positive results will be moved to an isolation facility and people with negative results will have to undergo another week of quarantine at home. Meanwhile, Qatari citizens, their spouses and children, and those with permanent residency who can travel outside the country and return at any time will be subject to coronavirus tests or quarantine upon their return depending on whether the country of departure is considered as a low risk destination or otherwise.
Residents from outside the country who will be allowed to return to Qatar will be granted permission based on a series of priorities, including public health indicators, the nature of the needs of the various government and semi-government sectors and humanitarian cases as informed by the GCO. Qatar is the worst-hit country in the Middle East after Iran and the lifting of travel restrictions on August 1 falls under the third phase of the four-phased reopening plan.