By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The Cabinet yesterday decided to mostly return to pre-COVID-19 times, allowing all commercial activities to operate without restrictions as of today, after a significant decline in the number of new coronavirus cases. Government Spokesman Tareq Al-Mazrem said all commercial activities will from today operate as per the decisions and regulations of the Municipality and ministry of commerce and industry, which was the case before the pandemic. This applies to malls, restaurants, cafes, commercial shops and others.

But the Cabinet continued to ban large gatherings including conferences, weddings and other social events, including gatherings at diwaniyas, according to Mazrem. He said people who are vaccinated are allowed to enter all places, but unvaccinated people can only enter pharmacies, cooperative societies, food markets, medical centers and hospitals.

The Cabinet also decided that all activities for children will reopen from September 1. “There has been a relative but comfortable stability in the number of cases and in people being admitted to hospitals” that prompted the decision to reopen the country, Mazrem said.

The health ministry has reported a steady decline in the number of new coronavirus cases for the past two weeks, with numbers dropping below 1,000 cases every day for the past five days. The number of coronavirus patients in hospitals and those in intensive care units has also dropped. As for residents, Mazrem said expats who wish to return to the country must have been vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson jab.

He said returnees must produce an electronic vaccination certificate with a QR code, as authorities at the airport will not accept paper documents. Health authorities must be able to read the QR code of the vaccination certificates issued by the health ministries of other countries. Residents with valid residencies will be allowed to return to the country as of August 1. The Cabinet also decided to resume direct flights to Morocco and Maldives, but direct aviation links with Egypt and other countries remain suspended, Mazrem said.

He however explained that regardless if direct flights are allowed or not, residents wishing to return must be fully vaccinated and can return from any country. Meanwhile, the interior ministry said yesterday it had arrested three Arab nurses who were issuing vaccination certificates to unvaccinated people for money. Reports said they were charging some KD 250 per certificate.