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Govt under pressure as new virus measures go into force

KUWAIT: Municipal inspectors make sure all commercial establishments close by 8 pm. – Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: MPs and businesses yesterday continued to pile pressure on the government to withdraw new tough coronavirus measures, especially the closure of businesses, but authorities insisted they will enforce the decisions. MPs yesterday called on the government to either withdraw the decisions or compensate all businesses affected by the new partial closures to combat a significant rise in the number of coronavirus cases, with the health ministry yesterday reporting 962 cases, the highest in several weeks.

National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem assured small businesses that he had “carried their voice” to the highest level and that directives have been issued to find suitable solutions to reduce the sufferings and losses of local businesses. He said he also held talks with HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah, who was cooperative and positive, and “is working to find a way to implement the decisions and still reduce the sufferings of small businesses”.

Ghanem called for a speedy implementation of solutions to save businesses from going bankrupt. He also said the prime minister informed him the government will not close mosques, since they are strictly observing health precautions. The speaker also called for considering allowing certain sports activities to continue after observing health precautions. Ghanem said representatives of small businesses were due to meet with the ministerial emergency committee late yesterday or today.

A group of lawmakers meanwhile yesterday submitted a motion calling to hold a special session to discuss the new variant of the coronavirus and a proposed economic package to assist businesses, in addition to debating a solution to the imbalance of the population structure, where expats form a majority. MP Saadoun Hammad blamed the entry of scores of expats and alleged fake PCR certificates for the rise in the number of coronavirus cases, and not because of local businesses. He said movement at Kuwait airport and border points should be strictly controlled to prevent the entry of infected people.

MP Hesham Al-Saleh submitted a draft law calling on the government to pay the rent of businesses and the salaries of their employees throughout the periods of closures. MP Muhalhal Al-Mudhaf submitted an urgent proposal calling on the government to withdraw new restrictions and to compensate all those harmed by the measures.

But the interior ministry insisted that it will apply the decision and deployed security men and the special forces to assist municipal staff in implementing the closure of all businesses and malls from 8 pm to 5 am. Salons and health clubs have also been closed for a month. Expats were banned from entering the country from yesterday for two weeks, which can be extended.


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