* Children under 12 back in malls and markets, food courts reopen for dine-in
* New phase of lifting restrictions comes into effect
The start of the second phase of Qatar’s gradual lifting of Covid-19 restrictions yesterday served as a fillip to the retail and food & beverage (F&B) sectors as a large number of families and children spent their weekend at malls and shopping centres.
The windfall is expected to continue for shops and boutiques, as well as restaurants and coffee shops, today as more people are expected to visit such places because it is the weekend.
And, with the summer holidays coming up, the malls and retail outlets there can expect more young visitors in the days to come.
This comes after the Cabinet on Wednesday announced that children under 12 can now enter malls and markets, further easing Covid-19 restrictions in the country, according to a Qatar News Agency report.
An employee of a renowned restaurant at a major mall said they attracted “a good number of customers”, mostly parents and children, yesterday as the new phase of easing restrictions came into effect.
“It was like a festivity, a celebration for many young kids who dined with us, and we were also glad to see our regular customers after a long time,” she added.
There was a buzz in mall food courts also as they reopened for dine-in yesterday, being allowed to operate at 30% of the capacity.
Like restaurants, ice-cream parlours and cafes, several other stores also witnessed a surge in the number of customers yesterday as compared to the previous weeks. Strict safety protocols are in place for both staff members and customers, and stores were seen implementing them in line with government directives.
Shirts, sports apparel, dresses and shoes (for children as well as adults), luggage and other travel accessories, toys as well as furniture and kitchen wares are some of the products that are in high demand, it is learnt.
An apparel shop employee said she expects their sales this weekend to reach pre-pandemic levels due to the big turnout of customers who also purchased in bulk.
“Promotions and special offers may have helped a lot in attracting more shoppers but I think even at regular prices, many are still willing to spend,” she added.
Filipino expatriate Marife D said taking her two children to the mall once again may be costly but “something that brought joy to my daughters who were so eager to go out in the past weeks”.
Apart from the welcoming ambiance at malls, she said her family also feels safer now as the Covid-19 precautionary measures have remained in place (such as body temperature checks, displaying the green code on Ehteraz, and mandatory wearing of face masks), and knowing that a sizeable section of people in the country have already been vaccinated.
A security guard assigned at one of the entrances of a major mall in Doha noted that most visitors who entered through that gate showed the vaccinated status on their Ehteraz app, besides the mandatory green code. His colleague said this was also the case at another gate.
A senior health Qatari official had said on Thursday that a third wave of Covid-19 is unlikely in the country due to the high levels of protection that vaccines provide. However, he urged the public to adhere to safety protocols until 80% or 90% have been inoculated.