Qatar’s retail and food and beverage (F&B) sectors are poised to have a strong recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic with the phased lifting of restrictions and allowing vaccinated nationals and residents from other GCC countries, according to Mall of Qatar general manager Emile Sarkis.
“There’s no doubt that it’s going to be very positive. I think Qatar would be the first country (in the region) to recover,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a recent event.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) had announced that “GCC citizens, their families and their household workers are allowed to enter the State of Qatar at any time, provided they follow the travel and return policy”.The MoPH added that “fully vaccinated GCC citizens who have received any of the Covid-19 vaccines recognised in Qatar with at least 14 days since the last dose and present an official vaccination card or certificate are exempted from quarantine".A detailed quarantine exemption criteria for individuals vaccinated against Covid-19 in GCC countries is posted on the ministry's website.
“Easing of (Covid-19) restrictions on travel to Qatar from the GCC has had a very positive impact. For us at MoQ, we have witnessed it, this is something concrete and tangible for us, because we have Al Rayyan Hotel, and have seen a lot of nationalities from other GCC countries visiting our malls – dining and shopping,” Sarkis said.
As a big percentage of the eligible population in Qatar has been vaccinated and the public continues to adhere to the Covid-19 precautionary measures, he said people now feel safer and are confident to visit malls and shopping centres.
“Fully vaccinated means you will feel more comfortable. We started seeing a lot of developments and traffic in the malls,” Sarkis said.
He lauded the efforts of the MoPH, Ministry of Commerce and Industry and other government agencies concerned in preventing the spread of Covid-19, saying “certainly, they are doing a great job, monitoring everything and all the measures taken by all the malls and public places".
“Qatar is so advanced, the vaccination and preventive measures are extremely well. At the same time, other countries went for full lockdown but Qatar’s strategy was very smart and we never went for full lockdown and still the cases have been very low,” he noted.
Sarkis expressed confidence that footfall at malls will surge once entertainment centres and restaurants in Qatar are fully opened.
“All the malls, not only in Qatar but wherever in the world, if you don’t have entertainment or restaurants, the footfall will be minor because people will come to the mall, pick up a certain good they need and leave.
“Now whenever you open entertainment (options), whenever you open F&B (outlets), people would like to come and mingle together, have dinner, lunch, coffee, which is definitely going to help increase the traffic and economic activity in the country,” he said.
During the past four months, he noted that MoQ opened more than 30 new stores, including renowned restaurants.
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