In an attempt to shield the light on the new measures taken by the government to fight the spread of COVID-19, we are trying to keep a close eye on the recent updated precautionary measures taken by the authorities in the State of Qatar to contain the spread of COVID-19 as announced by the relevant formal entities including the Supreme Crisis Management Committee of the State (the “Committee”) during the press conference held on Thursday 26th of March, 2020.
Amending Law No. (17) of 1990 regarding the Protection from Infectious Diseases to assess with combating COVID-19
Law No. (17) of 1990 (the “Law”) is considered to be the main implemented law in the State of Qatar regarding the combating of infectious diseases. It was necessary to amend the Law to introduce new provisions to help with combating the epidemic of COVID-19 because it is unprecedented epidemic since the enactment of the Law.
His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani issued Law No. (9) of 2020 to introduced new provisions to the existing provisions of the Law.
New and Amended provisions:
1. Obligation to report on an infected person or a person who is suspected to be infected of an infectious disease.
The new enacted amendments obliged the following persons to report to the competent authority on any infected person or the person who is suspected to be infected with an infectious disease:
* Every doctor, who examines the infected or the person who is suspected to be infected with an infectious disease,
* The infected person himself has the duty of reporting on his disease,
* The head of household or whoever is accommodating him,
* The manager of the university or the institution or the school or whomever is acting on his behalf,
* The line manager at work if the infection or the suspicion about the infection occurs during the course of business,
* The sponsor of the expatriate employee whether the infected person or the suspected to be infected is inside the country or abroad, whenever it reaches to his knowledge.
2. Obligation to Comply with the Instructions of Health Authority in case of Quarantine and/or Health Observation
Whereas some of the people who were subject to quarantine by the relevant authorities, to make sure that they are free of any of COVID-19’s symptoms, did not comply with the quarantine or observation designated period, the new amendments introduced an obligation on whoever is subject to quarantine or is under health observation by the relevant authorities to remain in the quarantine location designated by that authority and must adhere to the applicable procedures of the quarantine and monitoring.
3. Penalties in case of Non-compliance
The new amendments provided for penalties in case of non-compliance with the obligations enshrined thereunder. The new amendments provides that without prejudice to any more severe penalty provided by any another law, the breach of any obligations provided under paragraphs 1-2 and the measures undertaken by the Council of Ministers shall be punishable with imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years and a fine not exceeding (200,000) two hundred thousand Qatari Riyal or one of said penalties.
4. Delegating the Council of Ministers to take the necessary procedures to restrict the movements of persons, if needed
The new amendments also entitled the Council of Ministers to take the appropriate general actions and measures to maintain public health, including imposing restrictions on the freedom of individuals in society to gather, commute, reside and pass in certain areas during certain periods of time. These procedures might be taken by the Council of Ministers based on the proposal of the Minister of Health, and for the purpose of limiting the spread of the infectious diseases..
Shutdown of certain Commercial and Retail Activities as of Friday 27 March 2020 from 6 am to 7 pm
The Ministry of Commerce and Industry announced that as of Friday 27 March 2020 the following commercial activities will be on temporary shutdown from 6 am to 7 pm until further notice to combat the spread of COVID-19:
1) All cafes and cafeterias,
2) Educational centers,
3) Wedding and events planning shops,
4) Centers providing arts, theatrical and entertainments services, and
5) Shoe and watches repair kiosks.
However, all sectors determined by the Council of Ministers, food retail shops, chemists and delivery services including food delivery services are excluded from the said lockdown.
Extension of Entry Visas
Ministry of Interior decided to extend the entry visas for those persons whose entry visa has expired due to the suspension of all outbound and inbound flights. The extension can be made through the website of the Ministry of Interior or METRASH.
Extending the Suspension of Court Hearings for another Two Weeks
As an important decision to combat the spread of COVID-19, the Supreme Judiciary Council decided to extend the temporary suspension of court hearings at the Court of First Instances and Court of Appeal as well as the sessions of the Labour Disputes Committee and Rental Disputes Committee for two more weeks as of Sunday 29 March 2020.
Closure of Exchange Offices
In an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19, the governor of Qatar Central Bank issued the Circular No. (5) of 2020 regarding the temporary closure of exchange offices in the country until further notice to combat the spread of COVID-19. The said circular also mentioned that money transfer services will be available online in multiple languages.
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