This article has been updated since the press conference at 9pm on Wednesday.
New restrictions have been introduced in an effort to flatten the curve.
Qatari health authorities introduced a new set of restrictions following a major surge in Covid-19 cases that has resulted in an alarming increase in deaths, sources said, just hours after official figures marked the highest daily death toll since the pandemic started last year.
The fourth phase of a gradual return to lockdown conditions in Qatar is expected to be officially announced at a press conference later on Wednesday.
🦠Doha News has learnt that a lockdown with restrictions similar to those seen during the start of the pandemic is expected to be announced this week. As numbers continue to rise, we ask: has #Qatar gotten it wrong with the second #Covid19 wave?👇 https://t.co/HXuUYxaHdb
— Doha News (@dohanews) April 5, 2021
However, a source revealed the new restrictions include decreasing workforce capacity to 50% of the total number of employees for both the private and public sector, with remaining workforce to work remotely from their homes.
All meetings held in private and government sectors will be made virtual. If this isn’t possible, the meetings should be held with no more than 5 persons, while abiding by all health precautionary measures.
Only those taking part in individual workouts are allowed in parks, at the corniche, and open areas. Picnics and gatherings are not allowed.
Social gatherings and visits in closed places in homes and majlis are not allowed. A maximum of 5 people who have completed the doses of the Covid-19 vaccine are allowed in open places.
All conferences, exhibitions and events are to be postponed until further notice.
All dine-in options at all restaurants, cafes and food shops will be banned. However, delivery services and collections will remain accessible for the community.
Malls and shopping centres will operate at a decreased capacity and markets will shut down during the weekends to limit risks of infection. Children under 16-years-old will also not be allowed to enter.
The ministry has also announced the closure of cinemas and theatres until further notice, while gyms and sports clubs, massage and jacuzzi services, saunas, steam rooms and Moroccan and Turkish baths also remain closed.
Playgrounds at public parks will remain closed and gatherings at beaches and winter camps are restricted to family members of the same household.
All barbers and beauty salons to close.
Outdoor and indoor weddings remain prohibited until further notice and all private and public clinics will offer virtual services.
Mosques will remain open for daily prayers and Friday prayers, with only those 12+ years old allowed. However, the Ramadan nightly Taraweeh prayer will be performed at home, the ministry announced.
The new regulations are part of a strategy to re-impose restrictions that helped the Gulf state effectively flatten the curve at the height of the pandemic last year.
The restrictions are to be effective as of Friday, April 9, and until further notice.
Qatar is currently grappling with a more severe Covid-19 wave than that witnessed in 2020, with over 400 cases currently being tended to by doctors in the Intensive Care Unite as well as 800+ daily reported cases.
In December, eight people died from the novel coronavirus. The number decreased to three in January before shooting up to 10 in February, including an 11-year-old child. However, since March, 54 people have succumbed to the virus.
Health officials say the newly-found UK strain is the cause for the increasing number of cases and ICU admissions.
When compared to the original virus, the UK variant, a more deadly strain, has 23 mutations and spreads up to 70% more easily, experts say. This has resulted in a sharp increase in Covid-19 positive cases in Qatar, going from 300-400 daily reported cases in February to over 900 in April so far.
On Wednesday, Qatar reported 940 new daily cases, bumping the total number of active cases to 18,401 the highest in months.
Wednesday also saw the highest daily Covid-19 death toll since the global health crisis erupted.