Qatar Bans Entry From 14 Countries Effective March 9, 2020

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The Qatari government made an announcement late on Sunday that entry to Qatar would temporarily be suspended, with an end-date unclear, for travelers from 14 countries effective March 9, 2020.

Passengers from these destinations are still allowed to transit via Doha but will be denied entry if they wish to go landside.

You can access Qatar Airways here.

Travelers from the following countries are now ineligible to enter Qatar:

  • Bangladesh
  • China
  • Egypt
  • India
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Lebanon
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • South Korea
  • Sri Lanka
  • Syria
  • Thailand

Here’s the announcement from the Qatari government:

Statement by the Government Communications Office on the temporary suspension of entry of those arriving from certain countries as a preventive measure, due to the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide

8 March 2020

In addition to Qatar Airways announcement regarding flights to and from Italy, entry to the State of Qatar is temporarily suspended for all those intending to travel from certain countries, as of 9 March 2020. This decision comes as a preventive measure due to the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide.

The decision includes the following countries: Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria and Thailand.

This step comes in line with the State of Qatar’s efforts to take all necessary preventive measures to limit the spread of Coronavirus.

The decision affects all individuals intending to enter from these countries, including visas upon arrival, those with a residence or work permit, and temporary visitors.

The State of Qatar urges all citizens and residents to avoid all but essential travel at this time.

These precautionary measures may be subject to further updates based on the latest guidance of the national health authorities and international organisations on the spread of Coronavirus, in order to ensure the safety of all residents of the State of Qatar.

EDIT: Here’s the update that Qatar Airways has posted on its website:

Entry to Qatar

Under the direction of government authorities of the State of Qatar, as a preventive measure to limit the spread of Coronavirus, entry to Qatar is temporarily suspended for all those travelling from the following countries: Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria and Thailand. Only those with onward connections through Hamad International Airport are accepted for travel. This decision comes as a preventive measure due to the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide. It affects all individuals intending to enter from these countries, including visas upon arrival, those with a residence or work permit, and temporary visitors.

In relation to passengers travelling from Italy, only those with onward connections through Hamad International Airport are accepted for travel. Qatari nationals and those who are in possession of a Qatar Residency Permit are exempted from this decision, however these passengers will be asked to stay in a quarantine facility for 14 days as per the World Health Organization’s measures.

All passengers arriving from Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore will be screened and those displaying disease symptoms will be taken for further testing. Passengers returning positive test results will be admitted to treatment centres as per the measures of the Ministry of Public Health.

In line with the circular from the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) concerning preventing the spread of Coronavirus, Qatar Airways is prohibited from carrying all passengers from Egypt via any intermediate point(s), including those who are in possession of a Qatar Residency Permit. Qatari nationals are exempted from the above-mentioned decision, however will be asked to stay in a quarantine facility for 14 days as per the World Health Organization’s measures.

Conclusion

Qatar Airways and the state have both promoted Doha as a tourist destination offering previously free and now deeply discounted hotel nights for those traveling on the national airline.

The wording that the Qatari government here has used is “travelers from” implying that it would not only affect nationals but all passengers originating from these 14 countries (and perhaps those too that are on separate tickets but originate from now the banned destinations).

I cannot see why those “traveling TO” any of these 14 destinations (Qatar Airways doesn’t even serve them all) couldn’t enter Doha or, if this is the intention, this announcement by the Qatari government is poorly worded.

Qatar Airways should rebook affected passengers without a stopover in Doha and/or place them at the intra-terminal transit hotel for the duration of the stay.

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