* Only Qatari nationals, and their approved travelling companions, will be permitted to arrive into Qatar before August 1
"We are working to obtain clarification on some of the procedural requirements before we can launch hotel packages for you. We will provide an update on this website once more information is available. We will also post updates to Facebook and Instagram and we recommend that you follow us on these social media platforms to receive further updates," the website adds.
The four-phase lifting of Covid-19 restrictions in Qatar began on June 15, while the second stage will start on July 1, the third on August 1 and the fourth and final stage on September 1. While announcing this, the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management had specified that people entering Qatar will have to undergo mandatory quarantine for a period of two weeks in specially allocated hotels at their own expense.
The Discover Qatar website provides the details of who is eligible to return and the procedures involved, as well as other key points.
A: Who is eligible to return to/enter Qatar, on which dates, and under what conditions. Who needs to go into quarantine upon arrival into Qatar, and can I self-isolate or book my own hotel?
All permitted arrivals into Qatar must go into government-approved hotels to quarantine for a 14-day period upon arrival into Qatar. The following is a summary of who is currently permitted to arrive into Qatar and what quarantine conditions apply (subject to change, so please check out the rules and conditions on regular basis):
1. For Qatari nationals returning from June 15 to September 15:
All travellers, including Qatari nationals and their companions, travelling from Qatar will need to book and pay for one of the approved quarantine hotel packages for a period of 14 days, which must be booked before departure from Qatar. Qatari nationals currently outside Qatar will also need to book and pay for one of the approved quarantine hotel packages for a period of 14 days. Check-in at Hamad International Airport (HIA) will not be permitted without a confirmed quarantine reservation, if arrival back into Qatar is before September 15. Bookings can be made at Qatar Airways Holidays in partnership with Discover Qatar.
Only Qatari nationals, and their approved travelling companions, will be permitted to arrive into Qatar before August 1.
2. QID holders returning from August 1 to September 15:
QID holders will not be able to board a flight to Qatar without first receiving authorisation to travel to Qatar, and then by also providing confirmation of a 14-day government-approved quarantine package reservation.
QID holders are advised not to book a quarantine package until approval to return to Qatar has been confirmed. Details of the approval process will be published when the eligibility and guidelines are confirmed by the relevant authorities. "Please check back regularly to this page for updates," the website (https://www.discoverqatar.qa/welcome-home/) says.
B. What if a person is planning to return to Qatar after September 15?
The website recommends that the person waits until closer to the planned date of arrival into Qatar before confirming his/her return travel plans, in case any of the quarantine requirements have changed.
C. Can all QID holders return from August 1?
No, only QID holders from selected 'low-risk' countries will be permitted to travel from August 1, and pre-authorisation to enter Qatar will be required for all QID holders. Further details and a list of approved 'low-risk' countries will be provided when available.
D. Can one self-quarantine at home?
No, as of now, and as per the Ministry of Public Health's regulations, the 14-day quarantine is required at an approved and designated quarantine hotel. One has to check the rules and regulations on a regular basis for future updates.
E. What if one's Qatar ID has expired?
"If your QID has expired while you have been outside of Qatar, you may be permitted to re-enter Qatar to renew your QID, after you have been approved to travel and successfully completed your 14-day quarantine," the website explains.
F. Can one fly with an airline other than Qatar Airways?
Yes, but the same entry conditions will be present for Qatari nationals and QID holders.
G. If one has already had a positive test for Covid-19, can s/he travel?
"No, once you have recovered and tested negative you can travel, by adhering to the entry and quarantine requirements already outlined."
To enable a smooth return/entry to Qatar, Discover Qatar outlines the official approved booking process.
For all permitted arrivals, quarantine bookings can be made at Qatar Airways Holidays in partnership with Discover Qatar.
Bookings can be amended, up to 24 hours prior to one's arrival, without any penalty. There is no refund for any unused quarantine reservations or if one fails to check in on the date of arrival. One would also be able to choose between the different star-rated hotels available, depending upon his/her preferred hotel category and budget.
Quarantine package rates and options are already available. If eligible, one can check availability for the chosen date at Qatar Airways Holidays in partnership with Discover Qatar (https://bit.ly/DQWelcomeHome).
One cannot book directly with a hotel. Bookings have to be made with Qatar Airways Holidays in partnership with Discover Qatar for a stay at an approved quarantine hotel.
The website stressed that "your safety and comfort are the highest priority – upon arrival and at your hotel".
Upon arrival at HIA, one will be directed to a transfer to take him/her to the hotel. A compulsory one-way transfer will be provided.
"Your hotel will be compliant with the Qatar Clean programme. Qatar Clean is a collaborative effort by the National Tourism Council, Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), and the hospitality and tourism sectors. The programme has been carefully designed to align with best practices and expert protocols to ensure remarkable levels of cleanliness, hygiene and safety for our guests and frontline workers," the website states. For more information, one can visit www.qatarclean.com
Regarding the precautions that are in place for hotel staff, they will also be under quarantine and follow MoPH guidelines.
Hotel staff "have been tested/are routinely tested for Covid-19". In case there is an outbreak in a hotel, one will be required to follow the instructions of MoPH staff in the hotel.
Medical teams will be at the hotel 24/7, and testing for Covid-19 at any stage will be available. If a person tests positive for Covid-19 at any time of quarantine, s/he will be directed to follow the instructions provided by MoPH staff at the hotel. All hotel reservations will be on full-board basis. This will consist of breakfast, lunch and evening meal as a minimum. Food will be left at the door of the room.
A room can be shared only with direct relatives. A maximum of two adults and one child, six years or under, may share a room."
Access to laundry facilities will be available, "but this might be at an additional cost". This will be advised at the time of booking.
Bed linen will be changed once a week as minimum.
Use of extended room services might be available, depending upon the chosen hotel at an additional cost.
Outdoor facilities at the hotel cannot be used as leaving the room is prohibited. Also, there are no specific facilities for children, and leaving the room is not allowed for any reason. There will be no access to cooking facilities, hotel facilities such as the gym, pool, restaurant, etc, or prayer room as leaving the room is prohibited.
Food/shopping cannot be delivered to the hotel, and there will also be no provision for outdoor exercise. On whether a person will have contact with family members or friends who are based in Qatar, at any time during quarantine, the website states: "No. Physical contact is not allowed."
Also, on whether a person will have contact with family members or friends at any time during quarantine (where they are also in quarantine), the website says: "No, only unless you will be sharing a room."
If anyone on a travelling party has special needs, that should be communicated by making "Discover Qatar aware of the special requirements at the time of making your quarantine package booking".
In case there is a large group and/or specific requirements, "please call or e-mail Discover Qatar with your request and we will be happy to see if this can be accommodated", the website states (e-mail: [email protected]; telephone: 4423 7999).
Before making a booking, Qatari nationals have been urged to read all of the information mentioned above to ensure that they understand the booking terms and conditions.
"If you need to book more than three rooms, please call us on +974 4423 7999 or e-mail us at [email protected]," the website adds.