Par Diane ArtisSophie CarleiFatia Bouteiller

COVID-19: Government updates travel, virus-related restrictions

What is the change?

The government has updated travel restrictions and safety mandates. Additionally, the Ministry of Public Health has released an app to help trace and combat the virus.

Key Points:

  • Everyone must wear a mask when leaving home, except when driving a vehicle alone.
  • Before leaving their residence for any reason, all citizens and residents must install the Ehteraz smartphone app, which the Ministry of Public Health developed to help trace and combat COVID-19. This decision is effective from Friday, May 22 until further notice. The app can be downloaded from Play Store and App Store.
  • Only two people may travel in a vehicle at a time, with the exception of taxis, limousines and private vehicles driven by a family driver, which may have three people.
  • From May 19 until May 30, shops must remain closed, and commercial activities are forbidden, with the exception of food and catering, pharmacies and restaurants that submit external requests
  • Effective Tuesday, May 19 until further notice, sports may only be practiced near one’s residence. Those engaging in sports must avoid gatherings, wear a mask and social distance.
  • Those disobeying these mandates face fines and/or imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years and a fine not exceeding 200,000 riyals.

Qatar implemented initial travel and visa suspensions in March. It then expanded the travel ban and introduced visa-extension measures in April.

qatar airways

Update: April 24, 2020

COVID-19: Visitor relief measures implemented

What is the change?

The government has implemented several relief measures for foreign visitors in Qatar who are unable to return home because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Key Points:

  • Because of the airport closures, visitors using tourist visas, including on-arrival and ones that were previously issued, are allowed to remain in the country without needing visa extensions or the payment of any fees.
  • A grace period will be granted for them to exit the country when conditions have become normal and flights begin operating again.

Qatar implemented a travel ban last month and suspended visa issuance in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In April, the travel ban was extended and various visa measures, such as extensions, were implemented.

The new relief measures will make remaining in the country and eventually exiting easier for foreign visitors.

Update: March 17, 2020

Visa and travel suspensions announced

What is the change?

The Qatar government recently announced new visa and travel suspensions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Key points:

  • ALL non-Qatari nationals are banned from entering to Qatar until further notice.
  • Beginning March 15, inbound travel from France, Germany, Spain and Sudan has been suspended until further notice.
  • New work, business and family visas will no longer be issued beginning March 15 until further notice, for companies under QFC authority.
  • The suspension likewise applies to new resident permit applications, for companies under QFC authority.
  • Exit permits for government and semi-government employees will be discontinued from March 19.
  • The exit permit system (for travel notifications) for government and semi-government employees not subject to the Labor Law, will be discontinued from March 19 for all but 5% of employees as determined by their employers.
  • Employees allowed to leave the country on a temporary basis or a final exit, can do so without using an exit permit during their work contract period.
  • The new exit policy applies to employees and workers in various professions: the oil and gas sector and its subsidiaries, agriculture and irrigation, private offices, public bodies and ministries, marine vessel employees in Qatar waters, and government agencies and other institutions.
  • Five percent of these employees are not covered by this policy and must apply with their employers for a temporary or final exit permit.
  • A text message will be sent to those individuals in this group to notify them they must apply through their employers in order to exit the country temporarily or permanently.

The new suspensions on visas and inbound travel will greatly disrupt travel into Qatar. Employers should account for affected travelers and rearrange travel schedules accordingly. Significant delays may occur for consular and in-country processing.