With the current global Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, we understand that all of our partners and prospective investors are dealing with enormous challenges. At a time when public health is the utmost priority and global supply chains face unprecedented strain, all governments and businesses must work collectively to contain the virus and manage the economic disruption affecting us all.
In common with most other nations, Bahrain is affected by COVID-19, but has taken swift and decisive action to try to minimise the impact on our people and the business community.
Bahrain has set up a dedicated National Taskforce to tackle the spread of the virus and took measures to ensure that testing and quarantine facilities were set up without delay. The Kingdom has one of the highest testing rates per capita in the world, garnering the recognition of the World Health Organization for its agile response. Bahrain was also the first Arab country to join the Solidarity Trial to find effective treatment for the virus. The Kingdom stands ready to take further steps to ensure that the virus does not spread. Bahrain is also:
- Providing free treatment to citizens and residents.
- Providing mobile medical units to examine people in their homes.
- Assembling a volunteer task-force of over thirty thousand individuals.
Economic stimulus package
As part of the response, the government of Bahrain is supporting individuals and companies through a comprehensive US$11.4bn economic stimulus package.
The measures include extending Bahrain’s liquidity fund initiative, interest rate reductions, loan restructuring and salary support, rent decreases, and grants and utility relief for businesses.
Bahrain’s economic stimulus package – The key points:
The payment of all insured Bahraini private sector employees for three months starting April 2020 from the Unemployment Fund, following constitutional procedures and in line with the Social Insurance Law. In June 2020, the Cabinet agreed to pay 50% of Bahrainis’ wages in the private sector in the most COVID-19 affected sectors for an additional three months from July to September 2020. In September, the government announced that it will continue to pay 50% of all Bahrainis wages in the private sector’s most affected sectors from October to December. Please contact the Social Insurance Organization for further information.
The automatic payment of individuals’ and businesses’ Electricity and Water Authority utility bills for three months from April 2020 (up to the costs incurred during the same period in 2019), whilst also restructuring government administrative costs to offset additional costs incurred by the government. As of July 2020, the government will sponsor electricity and water bills for all citizen subscribers in their first residences for the months of July to September, up to the costs incurred during the same period in 2019. In September 2020, the government announced that it will extend this until December 2020.
In September 2020, all banks agreed to defer loan installments owed by Bahrainis until the end of 2020. While loan repayments will be deferred, interest on the amount and administrative fees will have to be paid.
Exempting all businesses from government-owned industrial land rental fees for three months from April 2020. In July 2020, a measure was announced to suspend rent collection from government industrial lands occupied by manufacturers that export at least 30% of their goods. Kindly contact the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism for more information.
Exempting all tourism-related industry from tourism levies until December 2020.
Exempting sectors most adversely affected by COVID-19 from monthly labour fees for the issuance and renewal of work permits, and a 50% reduction for other sectors for three months starting July 2020. Kindly contact the Labour Market Regulatory Authority for more information.
Waiving the 2020 commercial registration renewal and commercial activity fees for the first 3 activities for companies operating in the most adversely affected sectors. Kindly contact the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism for more information.
By extending these initiatives to those most affected, the Kingdom hopes to minimise the impact on residents, citizens and our business community.
Here at EDB, we continue to work closely with the business community to track developments day-by-day. Our colleagues will be reachable by phone or email throughout this challenging time.
The authorities at Bahrain International Airport will conduct medical tests on passengers if their final destination is the Kingdom of Bahrain. Passengers are required to undergo and pay for the enhanced arrivals testing procedure for COVID-19 and need to self-quarantine until test results have been received. There is no compulsory self-quarantine required of passengers who test negative upon arrival. Any person staying in Bahrain for a minimum of 10 days must repeat the testing procedure on the 10th day following their arrival in the Kingdom.
On-arrival visas have been resumed for nationals of 68 countries at Bahrain’s entry points. Please visit the Nationality, Passport & Residence Affairs website for more travel updates.
COVID-19 and your business
As well as activating your business continuity plans and assessing operational risks posed by the potential spread of COVID-19, consider the following tips:
Keep up to date: Check the official Bahrain Ministry of Health page to receive the latest confirmed information.
Offer advice to employees: Make colleagues aware of the official information from the Ministry of Health (see above) and implement enhanced cleaning protocols as well as remote working systems when necessary.
Consider travel arrangements: Contact your airline to verify that flights are running and check the latest guidelines before travelling. Those who have been to certain high-risk countries may not be able to enter Bahrain, or could be subject to quarantine.
For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.