DISCLAIMER: The personal opinions and details expressed in this article are the writer's only. Your experience returning to Qatar may be different and is dependent on several factors including whether you are returning from a low or high-risk country. When returning to Qatar, we must all comply with visa entry procedures and quarantine guidelines – please see government websites listed below for more information.
Here is my personal account of returning to Qatar from a low-risk country and completing quarantine at home.
At Heathrow Airport, London, we checked into Qatar Airways and were asked to submit hard copies of our Exceptional entry permits to Qatar and home quarantine pledge issued by The Supreme Committee for Crisis Management.
My husband's company applied for his permit. Once he received his permit, he applied for exceptional permits for me and our 2 children.
Once our permits were checked and authorised, we proceeded to immigration to board our flight. These documents would be checked and stamped upon arrival in Qatar for COVID-19 testing at Hamad International Airport. We were also given face shields to wear with our face masks on the flight.
After landing at Hamad International Airport, we made our way to immigration and were met by an airport official and a member of the Qatar Red Crescent Society who checked the following:
We were directed to a section within the arrivals area and met by staff who asked us to board a mini-bus (with designated seats for social distancing) for transferral to the official COVID-19 testing area within the airport.
After a short ride, we arrived at the COVID-19 airport registration and testing section. The area is similar to other parts of the airport with seating and an open café serving food and drinks. We were directed to the registration desk and gave all personal information, including our Qatar IDs, flight details and permits.
Our Qatar entry permits and home quarantine pledges were checked and stamped with authorisation. The staff gave us information booklets provided by the Ministry of Public Health with all the advice and details about home quarantine. The home quarantine information can also be found at www.moph.gov.qa
After registration, we went for testing in a nearby room set up as a small medical facility with separate cordoned booths. Our family was given a nasal and throat swab with cotton-tipped plastic buds (this took approximately 10 seconds total for each family member) and our Qatar entry permits and documents checked and stamped with authorisation.
Next, we were transferred back to the main airport to finalise immigration, collect our luggage and jump into a taxi to head for home. All taxis are fitted with a clear plastic screen between the driver and passengers. Our taxi driver was also wearing a mask. We found all the staff at Hamad International Airport very helpful and friendly.
Over the designated 7 days of home quarantine, we adhered to all the rules (home quarantine is either 7 or 14 days depending on whether your country is considered low risk). Please see the Ministry of Public Health for an updated list of low-risk countries and home quarantine rules.
On our 6th day of the home quarantine, we called our local government health clinic to organise our second and final COVID-19 test. The local government health clinic is where you are registered and its also good to have a current Hamad Medical card. Later that day, we arrived at the clinic and alerted the staff that we needed COVID-19 testing. Please note the opening and closing times of your local health centre as some clinics operate at different days/times.
At the front desk, I registered our details (my family stayed in the car). We were told to wait in the car until one of the medical staff would call to authorise our entry into the clinic. Finally, after a call from the staff, we entered the clinic and were immediately given swab tests. We were told that our Ehteraz status would be updated within 24 hours. The next day our Ehteraz apps had been changed to a green status indicating negative.
For up to date information for returning to Qatar and home/hotel quarantine, please check the following government/authorised websites:
Discover Qatar/Qatar Airways: www.discoverqatar.qa
Hamad International Airport: www.dohahamadairport.com
Ministry of Public Health: www.moph.gov.qa
Government Communications Office: www.gco.gov.qa
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