Qatar drops coronavirus restrictions just before World Cup starts
Doha, QA – Qatar, the home base of 2022 World Cup host country, has taken steps to gradually relax restrictions to the movement of people and goods ahead of the World Cup.
Last week, Qatar decided to partially suspend its ban on residents and visitors from surrounding countries, which included Iran, with all but one of them having no previous history of travel to the country.
However, the measures have proved controversial at the time.
The World Health Organisation, which operates the World Cup, has expressed concern over Qatar’s moves, pointing out that the measures could lead to a resurgence of coronavirus cases in the Middle East.
The organisation has also advised people to take precautionary measures.
“The World Health Organisation has advised all eligible countries to suspend travel restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak and to closely monitor any developments,” the organisation said in a statement.
“WHO will continue to closely monitor any changes in the spread of coronavirus and provide support to countries that need it.”
However, the measures appear to have gone against the wishes of Qatar’s chief adviser to FIFA, Nasser Al-Khelaifi.
“As of now, the only thing we are aware of is that it’s a temporary suspension,” he told AFP news agency last week.
“As of now, we have not received any information whether there have been any new coronavirus cases.”
However, the measures have proved controversial at the time — with the US and other countries asking Qatar to reconsider the restrictions.
Iran has been placed under a travel ban because of its proximity to Qatar and the World Cup.
Qatar has not been accused of directly transporting coronavirus to Iran or any other country.
According to a Qatari health ministry source who spoke anonymously to AFP, Qatar has suspended a law which bans residents of the region from entering Iran.
But the source, who said that the ban was enacted to prevent further spread of coronavirus, said: “We cannot guarantee that Qataris will not have to cross the border when they take any job there.”