Work from home to curb coronavirus, Qatar tells private firms

Employees at Doha's Hamad International Airport display measures which have been implemented to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19, on March 31, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 01 April 2020

Work from home to curb coronavirus, Qatar tells private firms

  • Effective on Thursday for an initial two weeks, the step allows exceptions in some vital sectors
  • These include the military and security, the ministry of foreign affairs and diplomatic missions and health care

DUBAI: Qatar’s cabinet on Wednesday told private sector companies in the state to direct 80 percent of their staff to work from home to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Effective on Thursday for an initial two weeks, the step allows exceptions in some vital sectors, state news agency QNA reported. These include the military and security, the ministry of foreign affairs and diplomatic missions, health care, oil and gas, plus some government employees and workers on national flagship projects.
The working day will be cut to six hours, from 7:00a.m. to 1:00p.m., excluding grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants. Household cleaning services will be suspended, QNA reported, and the number of workers transported by bus halved.

The state also said it has extended the suspension of inbound flights except transit and cargo over coronavirus fears.
Qatar extended a lockdown of an industrial area in Doha where authorities reported dozens of cases of the disease, QNA added. 


US blasts Houthis over ‘ticking time bomb’ tanker in Red Sea

Updated 10 August 2020

US blasts Houthis over ‘ticking time bomb’ tanker in Red Sea

  • Iran-backed militias renege on agreement to allow UN inspectors aboard stricken vessel holding 1.4 million barrels of oil

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: The US blasted Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen on Sunday for reneging on a deal to allow UN teams to board a rusting oil storage vessel that threatens an environmental disaster in the Red Sea.

The FSO Safer has been moored 7 km off the coast of Yemen since 1988. It fell into Houthi hands in March 2015, when they took control of the coast around the port city of Hodeidah.

The Houthis briefly bowed to pressure last month and agreed to allow a team of UN engineers to visit the ship, before changing their minds and restating their previous demands for the revenue from the oil. As the vessel’s condition deteriorates there are fears that the 1.4 million barrels of oil it contains will start to seep out.

“The Houthis have failed to follow through on their agreement to allow a UN team on to the Safer,” the White House National Security Council said on Sunday.

“They are courting environmental and humanitarian disaster by obstructing and delaying. For the good of Yemen and the region, the Houthis must allow the UN aboard the Safer.”

A recent water leak into the tanker’s engine prompted warnings of a major disaster.

“The time has come for a resolute response for an outcome,” the Yemen Embassy in Washington said on Sunday. 

“There cannot be more delays or deliberations. UN inspectors must immediately access and assess the Safer oil tanker even without Houthi permission.”

The UK echoed its concerns. “There is another floating disaster off the Yemeni coast with potentially as massive an ecological footprint as the shockwave that engulfed Beirut,” former Middle East minister Alistair Burt said. “The politics preventing safe evacuation of the oil must stop immediately.”