Council of Ministers during its meeting on 10 January decided to reimpose many of the restrictions that were earlier in place in order to curb the spike in number of COVID-19 infections witnessed in recent days. Shifting the regular cabinet session held under the chairmanship of His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah to video-conference mode, highlighted growing concerns at the highest level on the sharp increase in infections.
In his media briefing following the cabinet meeting, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Ahmad Mansour Al-Sabah, who is currently doubling as acting foreign minister and minister of state for cabinet affairs, said that the Minister of Health Dr. Khaled Al-Saeed briefed the meeting on latest developments in the health situation on the local, regional and international levels. The health minister informed the cabinet that the rapid rate at which the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus spreads had led to the present hike in infections and hospitalizations, which was placing the health system under additional pressure.
After reviewing and discussing the latest recommendations put forward by the cabinet’s COVID-19 Emergency Ministerial Committee, the Council of Ministers decided on reintroducing the following restrictions, with effect from Wednesday, 12 January, without specifying an end date.
First: Reducing the attendance of employees in government institutions to no more than 50 percent, subject to requirements of each institution and in coordination with the Civil Service Commission (CSC).
The CSC has to formulate the necessary rules of work and flexible working hours. The private sector is also required to bring down the attendance rate to the least possible percentage.The decision, effective from Wednesday, 12 January, sine die, will be reviewed regularly in the light of the evolving pandemic situation.
Second: the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Trade and Industry have to make sure that staff working in kindergartens and children clubs are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and adhere to all health precautions.
Third: Meetings, conferences and internal courses can be only held via video link.
Fourth: Government entities providing service to applicants have to do so online, otherwise, an appointment beforehand is required via Meta Portal, Sahel App, and similar mediums, in full abidance by health precautions.
Fifth: All means of mass transportation have to limit the number of passengers to 50 percent of their total respective occupancies while applying the health precautions, notably the wearing of face masks.
Sixth: Public Authority for Sport has to make sure that spectators at sports events are fully vaccinated in keeping with the Cabinet Decree No. 1058/2021.
Seventh: Government committee on following up the health precautions has to ensure that all staff and clients of barber-shops, salons and health spas are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Council of Ministers decided not to reduce the working hours of complexes, restaurants, cafes and shops, and stipulated the booster dose vaccination was needed to attend sports activities and enter salons, barber shops and health clubs, and while specifying commuters on public transport to no more than 50 percent of capacity, exempted taxis from this rule,
The cabinet also urged all citizens and residents to fully adhere to the instructions and requirements issued by the health authorities, the most important of which was getting the booster dose of the anti-coronavirus vaccine provided nine months had elapsed since the second dose, as well as wearing face masks, and avoiding gatherings.
In another decision related to the National Assembly, the Cabinet was briefed on a letter submitted by Speaker of the National Assembly on an interpellation against Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah submitted on 4 January, by MP Hamdan Salem Al-Azmi. The interpellation is to be included on the agenda of the upcoming session, in line with Article 135 of the National Assembly’s bylaws.
The Cabinet affirmed its full confidence in, and support to, the defense minister, extolling his positive role and responsibilities he is bearing amid these exceptional conditions facing the country and the whole world due to the COVID-19 crisis.