KUWAIT: People queue up to receive their COVID-19 vaccines at the Kuwait Vaccination Center in Mishref yesterday. – Photo by Fouad Al-Shaikh

KUWAIT: Kuwait will press ahead with plans to ease COVID-19 restrictions as of next week, including allowing restaurants to resume dine-in services, the Cabinet said on Tuesday. The government exempted certain arrivals in Kuwait from compulsory quarantine, including those vaccinated using shots approved in Kuwait, in addition to people who had recovered from COVID-19 within 90 days; both of whom still need to submit a negative PCR test conducted 72 hours after arrival.

This condition currently applies to Kuwaiti travelers only since the ban on foreign travelers coming into Kuwait remains in place until further notice. The COVID-19 vaccines that have so far been approved in Kuwait are Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

The Cabinet also decided to offer exemptions from a travel ban imposed on non-vaccinated citizens, in effect as of Saturday, saying those who cannot get the jab for health reasons will be allowed to travel only with health ministry consent, while non-inoculated pregnant women with valid maternity certificates can also journey abroad.

The list of countries deemed as high-risk due to the spread of the coronavirus will be updated on a weekly basis, the Cabinet has decided, ordering the government’s official communication center to handle the task. The Cabinet also allowed only outbound flights to India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, while cargo planes to these destinations remain unaffected until further notice.

Restaurants and cafes across Kuwait have been given the go-ahead to welcome customers for dine-ins as of Sunday, the Cabinet decided during its weekly meeting chaired by His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, provided the hospitality venues comply with guidelines aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Health Minister Sheikh Dr Basel Al-Sabah allayed the Cabinet’s concerns over the spread of the pandemic in Kuwait, saying the health situation in the country has “largely stabilized,” which allowed for the loosening of some restrictions on public life. He warned against pandemic complacency even as the national vaccination campaign continues to pick up speed and the number of critical COVID-19 patients drops, urging nationals and expatriates alike to be mindful of health precautions.

The Ministry of Health had announced on Tuesday recording 1,084 new coronavirus infections and five related deaths in the previous 24 hours. The new figures took the total cases in the country up to 293,574 and deaths to 1,701 respectively, noted the ministry’s spokesman Dr Abdullah Al-Sanad. He pointed out that some 1,100 more people had been cured of the virus over the same period, raising the total of those who have overcome the disease to 279,924.

The number of people hospitalized with the virus stood at 11,949 as of Tuesday, with 182 of them in intensive care units, he added. Dr Sanad revealed that some 9,635 swab tests were conducted over the same period, bringing the total to 2,477,308. – KUNA