The past ten weeks have rushed in a hailstorm of events related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the subsequent self-quarantine regulations and ultimate lockdown which has come to an end in most GCC regions as of today. The uncertainty associated with the situation, along with its impact on the economy have made COVID-19 the main topic in 2020. Countries have recently sensed a need to slowly return to normalcy, and lockdowns are slowly being lifted across the world, including the GCC region. Below is a recap of what GCC countries are up to in terms of lockdown regulations and COVID-19-related announcements:
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia rushed to provide solutions offering relief to the economy. The initiatives taken were generous in numbers, amounting to a SAR 120 billion in stimulus packs helping businesses with tax, loans and services in forms of postponements, extensions and cancellations. As the situation intensified, the Kingdom increased its VAT rates.
Latest updates in the Kingdom have revealed a three-step reopening program, with the nationwide lockdown ending on June 21, except in the holy city of Mecca.
United Arab Emirates
The UAE was also a leader in COVID-19 mitigation initiatives, enforcing mandatory self-quarantine. Residents were required to apply for mobility permits in various Emirates throughout the month of April.
Latest updates saw the Emirates put an end to their lockdown, opening businesses with new regulations preserving maximum hygiene and social distancing. Offices are allowed to be 50% full, a move towards a potentially healthier market and ultimately, economy.
In Kuwait, wearing masks has become mandatory practice and a 16-hour curfew was enforced. Latest updates saw the country cautiously reopen automotive businesses, as well as dedicate focus for healthcare and making space for patients in order to mitigate the spread of the virus.
The mitigation initiatives across the board consisted mostly of stimulus packs, followed by immediate lockdown policies and a waiting game based on hopes the virus will retreat naturally. However, economic bodies worldwide were heavily affected, and while normalcy experiences a comeback today, fears of a second wave have made governments issue mandatory hygienic policies.