By B Izzak
KUWAIT: The government explained to lawmakers its guidelines of easing the total lockdown in the country from Sunday including the gradual return of employees to offices while abiding by strict health measures.
Speaking on Wednesday, National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said the government has decided to move to partial curfew from Sunday but its duration was to be determined by the council of ministers yesterday.
He said that Kuwait was at the fifth phase when authorities decided to impose the total lockdown on May 9 but now we have reached the third and fourth phases which require easing restrictions.
MPs said the health ministry insisted that employees should observe social distancing of at least two meters with each employee given at least 10 square meters of space. Employees must take all necessary precautions while dealing with the public and must wear face masks at all times. In the beginning, employees who are below 50 years old and who are healthy can return to work while keeping with distancing. Group eating at offices is totally banned.
The government told lawmakers that it will allow the gradual reopening of commercial activities while applying strict measures, which will be reviewed on the basis of health developments.The health ministry said in a presentation that the main coronavirus centers included Mirgab, Juleeb Al-Shuyoukh, Bnaid Al-Gar, Farwaniya, Mahboulah and Khaitan.
The ministry also said that one of the main reason for the spread of the disease is overcrowding of laborers in some residential areas and that ministry workers found that in some cases 16 or 20 workers living in the same room which means observing social distancing is impossible. The ministry also said that the return to normal life depends on the compliance of people with health guidelines. A number of MPs however demanded that the government should scrap the school year and others insisted that the assembly should resume holding regular sessions to decide on key issues.
In the meantime, a number of lawmakers Wednesday filed a draft law calling to adopt a quota system for various expatriate communities in the country in a bid to reduce the number of foreigners and rebalance the demographic structure.
The draft law stipulates a certain percentage for the main communities in the country depending on its current size as follows (the proposed percentage is from the Kuwaiti population of 1.4 million at present): Indians 15 percent, Filipinos, Sri Lankans and Egyptians 10 percent each, Bangladeshis, Nepalese, Pakistanis and Vietnamese 5 percent each and the rest of communities a maximum of three percent each.
This would mean that the number of all expatriates will be almost equal to citizens or 1.4 million, meaning a reduction of almost two million expats from their current number of 3.4 million. It also means that the main reduction will be from the key communities mainly Indians who must be cut by around 800,000 to make them within the allotted quota of 210,000. Egyptians also would have to be reduced by at least 550,000 to make them around 140,000 which is their quota. There will be massive reductions from the Filipinos, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis and others.
The implementation of the proposed legislation on the ground appears to be impossible because there are more than 250,000 Indians working as domestic helpers which is already above their proposed quota. The bill proposes penalties of a 10 years in jail and a fine of up to KD. 100,000 for any public employee who violates the law.
By B Izzak