Parliament has voted for imposing partial curfew in Bahrain to limit the spread of the Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19).
The urgent proposal, which was passed yesterday, suggests implementing a nationwide curfew from 6pm until 5am, but exempting those whose jobs require them to be out during this period.
Twenty-three of the country’s 40 MPs were present at yesterday’s vote during which 19 voted in favour of the proposal, two rejected it and two abstained.
This means the proposal has now been referred to the Cabinet for urgent review and decision.
The urgency of enforcing a curfew was highlighted during the weekly session, with MPs stressing that multiple violations of directives issued for people to remain at home have been recorded in the last week.
“Gatherings have shifted from government facilities or licensed commercial outlets to private gatherings in homes or farms, or group visits to other places like coasts and parks – this is what we want controlled,” said Ahmed Al Salloom, who was one of the legislators spearheading the proposal.
Parliament also voted on 10 other urgent proposals related to measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
They include allowing the so-called free visa expatriate workers a grace period without facing penalties to combat the spread of Covid-19 since the violating workers come in contact with people in residences and workplaces.
Setting up a new fund to help cover the cost of efforts to combat Covid-19 was also approved by MPs in a bid to help underprivileged families and those affected.
They want businessmen, companies and banks along with private establishments to contribute towards the fund.
A number of MPs also proposed donating a quarter of their pay towards the fund.
During the discussions, Ali Ishaqi suggested exempting leading businesses from any government support, claiming they “have failed to contribute one fils towards lifting the country from this crisis”.
However, he was immediately interrupted by Mr Al Salloom, who revealed that a list of businesses wishing to contribute funds to aid the national economy has been submitted to the government.
Mr Al Salloom, who is also board member of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, explained that they will support the categories that will not be covered by the BD4.3 billion economic package.
MPs also approved a proposal to provide support to micro, small and medium companies affected by the pandemic.
Another proposal to delay taking instalments on loans from places of work, housing and pensions for six months was approved.
MPs also voted to have banks and financing companies respect the no fees, no interest and no additional payments rule on deferring loans and credit card payments.
Working mothers in government-owned companies could also be allowed to work remotely under another urgent proposal, which also calls on businesses to do the same.
MPs also voted on a proposal to provide all government services online.
They also voted in favour of giving all faculty members in educational institutions time off until the situation improves.
Parliament’s session should have been held for a maximum of two hours in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) regulations for closed areas, but the 11 proposals meant the session ended in three hours.
MPs were also seated under new social distancing arrangements, had their lunch buffet cancelled, were not allowed to gather and lobby outside the chamber, and were stopped from holding mass prayers.
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