KUWAIT: HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah chairs the Cabinet’s weekly meeting on Monday. – KUNA

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The Cabinet yesterday slightly eased the nightly curfew to 11 hours and exempted vaccinated travelers from institutional quarantine. In a statement following its weekly meeting, the Cabinet said the nightly curfew imposed two weeks ago to curb a spike in coronavirus cases will now extend from 6 pm to 5 am the next day, instead of 12 hours. The new decision is effective from today.

The Cabinet also allowed deliveries by restaurants and cafes to continue until 10 pm and allowed walking from 6 pm to 8 pm daily, provided people remain in their areas and do not use vehicles. The Cabinet also replaced hotel quarantine with home quarantine for travelers who have been vaccinated.

Travelers who have taken two doses of the vaccine at least two weeks ago or those who took just one dose five weeks ago will be asked to spend only seven days in home quarantine. The same applies to people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have taken one vaccine dose two weeks ago. All the three categories must undergo a coronavirus test on the seventh day of the quarantine and produce a negative result.

Students studying abroad only need to produce a certificate from their universities to be exempted from hotel quarantine, the Cabinet said. Expats who have valid residencies in Kuwait continue to be barred from entering the country since a ban was placed on Feb 7. Only foreign diplomats and medical staff and their families are exempted from the ban. MP Khaled Al-Otaibi called on the government to abolish hotel quarantine altogether and accused authorities of introducing it to benefit merchants at the cost of people.

Meanwhile, the government yesterday sent a draft law proposing financial support for small and big businessmen affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The bill stipulates that local banks will provide loans at reduced interest to businessmen harmed by the pandemic, provided the loans are used to support the companies’ operations like payment of salaries.

The loans must be repaid in easy installments over seven years for small businesses and four years for big merchants, while the government will bear part of the interest on the loans. The Assembly’s legal and legislative committee meanwhile approved a draft law to delay the repayment of loans for six months, while the financial and economic affairs panel approved a series of bills calling to aid small and medium businesses harmed by the coronavirus.