COVID-19 Update – Additional Government Measures

COVID-19 Update – Additional Government Measures

In this new version of our regular law updates, we are trying to keep a close eye on the recent precautionary measures taken by the authorities in the State of Qatar to contain the spread of COVID-19.

A. Committee Economic Measures

On Sunday 15 March, 2020 His Highness the Emir Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani chaired the Supreme Crisis Management Committee of the State (the “Committee”) to discuss the impact of the COVID-19 on the micro and macro levels of the economy as well as to adopt resolutions to alleviate the negative consequences of the COVID-19 on various sectors in the country. The Committee adopted the following measure to mitigate the economical impacting:

* Adopting a stimulus economic plan of QAR 75 billion to support and subsidize the private sector.

* Directing the Central Bank of Qatar to adopt a reasonable mechanism to encourage all banks to defer all loans’ due installments for a grace period of six months.

* Directing Qatar Development Bank to postpone all due loans’ installments for a period of six months.

* Directing the Qatar Central Bank to provide additional liquidity to all operating banks in Qatar.

* Removing all customs tariffs on medical supplies and food supplies for a period of six months.

* Exempting the following sectors from paying Kahrama fees (i.e. water and electricity fees) for a period of six months: Hospitality and tourism sector,Retail sector,Logistic zones,Malls in case they provided subsidies to lessees.

* Exempting small and medium enterprises as well as logistic zones from paying rent for a period of six months.

* Injecting QAR 10 billion in the stock exchange.

B. Committee Other Measures

On 15 March 2020, the Committee chaired by His Highness the Emir Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19 decided the following:

  1. 1) Travel & Public Transport

* All inbounds flights to Qatar will be suspended for at least 14 days from 18 March up for renewal. Flights will continue for cargo, passengers transiting through Doha Airport to other destinations and returning Qatari citizens. Retuning Qatar citizens will be subject to a 14 days mandatory quarantine period on arrival.

* Suspension of all public transportation services, including the Metro and Karwa effective from 10 pm on Sunday 15 March 2020.

  1. 2) Workplace Measures

* The Committee also allowed employees over the age of 55, pregnant woman, people suffering from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart and kidney diseases and high blood pressure, to work remotely from home.

* The Committee also allowed students in schools and universities to study remotely starting from 22 March 2020 till further notice.

* The State Minister of the Council of Minsters Affairs issued the Circular No. (5) of 2020 to prevent all services employees including hospitality, buffet and post workers to the premises of ministries and governmental entities with special exception to cleaning workers who may enter for the purpose of cleaning premises under the supervision of services department after the end of business day. Moreover, the Circular also mentioned that an office will be located in the governmental entity to receive posts and correspondences without letting the post service workers nor representatives to enter the building.

C. Ministerial Measures

1) Ministry of Commerce and Industry

* As a precautionary measure to combat the spread of COVID-19, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (“MOCI”) urged people to refrain from physically visiting MOCI and the governmental

* services complexes to complete their transactions and instead utilize the electronic portal through the MOCI website.

* MOCI also announced the suspension of all dine in services in all restaurants in the country and instead the only allowed operations are for delivery and pick services effective 16 March 2020.

2) General Tax Authority

* The General Tax Authority issued Circular No. (5) of 2020 extending the tax return filing period for the tax year 2019. The circular provides a grace period of two months for filing the tax return of the year 2019, hence the final deadline for filing the tax return for the year 2019 will be 30 June 2020.

3) National Tourism Council

* The National Tourism Council issued Circular No. (3) of 2020 regarding the closure of specialized clubs of categories (A) and (C) until further notice. In this respect, the specialized clubs of the group (A) means hotel facility offering recreational, music and artistic programs, catering food, drinks and beverages requiring special permit, while specialized clubs of category (C) means a facility of a hotel establishment that offers snacks, drinks and beverages requiring special permit services.

4) Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs

* The Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs issued Circular No. (4) of 2020 regarding the closure of mosques and suspension of public prayers including Friday prayer effective from noon of 17 March 2020.  The Ministry mandated that people pray at home. Nonetheless, the call to prayer (Adhan) will continue to take place for all five prayers.

5) Ministry of Culture & Sports – Qatar Olympic Committee

* The Ministry of Culture and Sports issued Circular No. (11) of 2020 suspending all events and activities scheduled to be held in sports clubs and sports facilities.

* Qatar Olympic Committee announced on March 13, 2020, that it has postponed or cancelled a number of its upcoming sports events, in line with the protective measures taken by Qatar to limit the spread of COVID-19.

6) Judicial Council & Public Prosecution

* The Supreme Judiciary Council announced the closure of the Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeal, Rental Disputes Committee and Labour Disputes Committee for a period of two weeks starting from Sunday, 15th of March 2020. Accordingly, all court hearings scheduled to take place during this period will be administratively adjourned to future dates.

* With respect to the Public Prosecution, they are encouraging all to use their electronic platforms and only visit their offices for urgent matters.

* Al-Ansari & Associates will follow up with the relevant courts and update you with the new dates and status of court proceedings as soon as we receive additional information from the courts.

The government of the State of Qatar has taken earlier measures, available at CLICK HERE.

Please feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions or require additional information. We hope that your teams and families remain safe and healthy during this challenging time.

About Al-Ansari & Associates

Al-Ansari & Associates is a leading law firm based in Doha, the State of Qatar. Being the fastest growing firm in the State of Qatar, we are proud to have supported both local and international clients with multi jurisdictional qualified lawyers. The firm's practice is focused on core areas such as corporate and commercial, Banking and Finance, regulatory and compliance, Labour and Employment, TMT, Intellectual Property and Copyright, Real Estate and Contraction, Energy and Natural Resources, Transport and Infrastructure and Dispute Resolution. Al-Ansari & Associates provides its clients legal expertise with international standards.

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