DUBAI — Qatar announced new restrictions on residents including the mandatory download of a tracking app and the closure of all nonessential stores for the next 10 days as new infections soar across the region during Ramadan.
Several other Persian Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, have imposed new restrictions recently as cases have increased dramatically following the easing of constraints during the holy month.
Qatar’s announcement followed a cabinet meeting Monday. Starting May 22, all citizens and residents leaving their homes must download the Ehteraz tracking app on their phones so that those coming into contact with someone who tests positive can be tracked. Face masks are also mandatory in Qatar, and violators face jail time and fines of up to $53,000.
Qatar has reported 34,000 cases of the virus (more than 1 percent of the population), with 1,365 new ones just on Monday.
The UAE also announced late Monday that the night curfew would now begin at 8 p.m. instead of 10 p.m., “in light of what we have observed during the holy month of Ramadan and the increase in the number of covid-19 infections resulting from some of the individuals in the community who were reckless and didn’t take into account the precautionary measures,” said Saif Jume al-Dhaheri of the safety and prevention department.
Cases in the UAE have topped 24,000, more than twice the number before Ramadan began late last month. Dhaheri warned against family gatherings that could further spread the virus. The fasting period will end this weekend with the Eid holiday, which is normally celebrated with days of family visits and communal dinners.
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have also experienced major jumps in the new numbers of cases over the weeks of Ramadan, and both have reimposed restrictions.
Starting with the Eid holiday, Saudi Arabia, the worst-hit country in the region after Iran, will return to a 24-hour lockdown. The kingdom reported 2,593 new cases Monday, for a total of more than 57,000.