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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’s response

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.
  • Allowing all working mothers to work from home.
  • Suspending public and private schooling as well as higher education institutions until further notice.
  • Televising educational sessions through the Ministry of Education.
  • Suspending fingerprint attendance systems in government institutions.
  • Granting paid medical leave for a period of 14 days to passengers arriving from affected countries.
  • 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, which will come into effect once it gets approved in parliament and last for up to six months, 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. 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.

Exempting all individuals and businesses from municipal fees for three months from April 2020. More information can be obtained from the Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning.

Exempting all businesses from government-owned industrial land rental fees for three months from April 2020. Kindly contact the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism for more information.

Exempting all tourism-related industry from tourism levies for three months from April 2020.

Terminating monthly work fees and fees for issuing and renewing work permits for three months from April 2020. For more information, kindly contact the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA).

Doubling the Liquidity Support Fund to US$530m.

Increasing the Central Bank of Bahrain’s loan facilities to US$9.8bn to allow debt instalments to be deferred and extra credit to be extended. More information on the application process can be found here.

The redirection of all Tamkeen programmes (semi-autonomous government agency that provides loans and assistance to businesses) to support adversely affected companies, as well as the restructuring of all debts issued by Tamkeen.

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.

Travel guidance

The authorities at Bahrain International Airport may conduct medical tests on passengers arriving from any of the affected areas if the Kingdom of Bahrain is their final destination. Passengers must comply with such tests and procedures such as filling health declaration forms and screening processes.

Passengers who have been in China, Iran, Iraq or South Korea at any point within 14 days of their arrival into the Kingdom of Bahrain will be denied entry into the Kingdom with the exceptions of:

Bahraini citizens

Permanent residents of Bahrain

Citizens of GCC countries

Passengers with Prior Permission Granted (This needs to be presented prior to boarding)

The exceptions will be required to undergo medical examinations recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

On-arrival visas have also been suspended until further notice. Please visit the Nationality, Passport & Residence Affairs website for more travel updates.

As the situation develops, we will continue taking international guidance on the best way to manage the crisis and to ensure business continuity.

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.