COVID-19 in the Gulf Cooperation Council

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by Maram Sharif ’22

As countries across the globe continuously take measures to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, we wanted to take a closer look at the way that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are responding to COVID-19 and what laws have they enforced lately. Here are some of the latest COVID-19 updates in some of the Gulf states:

Firstly, Bahrain’s Ministry of Health is updating the citizens and the residents of the country with new announcements almost every week. At the start of the holy month of Ramadan, the Ministry emphasized the importance of continuing to practice social distancing and limit gatherings to those living in the same household rather than attending large gatherings with neighbors and friends, which is what usually would take place in a non-COVID-19 norm. It also announced that mosques will reopen for prayers for only those who are vaccinated and recovered from COVID-19. Bahrain also recently announced that only COVID-19 vaccinated, recovered, or those below 18 accompanied by a vaccinated guardian would be permitted to access indoor dining services, indoor gyms, indoor swimming pools, cinemas, spas, indoor events and conference halls, indoor playgrounds and leisure centers, going into effect starting the first day of Eid al-Fitr on May 13th, 2021. This would be implemented through presenting one’s vaccination certificate or evidence of recovery available on the BeAware application at the entrance of these facilities. Regardless of the fact that these announcements have been the subject of controversy, Bahrain was able to raise the rate of vaccinations administered up to 12.8k doses per day, and it is projected to reach herd immunity only four months from now, according to Bloomberg. 

Similarly, Kuwait is enforcing its own Coronavirus-related laws that are found controversial by many. Kuwait’s Council of Ministers has decided to ban international travel for citizens and their close relatives and domestic workers traveling with them as of Saturday, May 22 2021, unless they have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Of course, there are exceptions for certain age groups which are exempted from receiving the vaccine.

Saudi Arabia has also recently made similar measures. After being closed for months, the King Fahad Causeway, which connects Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, will open again starting May 7th 2021 to only those who have been fully vaccinated or recovered from the virus.

While countries continue to take different approaches to keep their residents safe and healthy, individuals should also adhere to these protocols and continue to follow best practices to keep themselves and their communities safe.

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