More than 7,500 expats leave Oman in first week of overstay fine waiver

As Covid-19 hits the economy, many lost jobs but stayed on in hope of finding new employment

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More than 7,500 expatriates registered for a waiver to leave Oman without paying fines, including 4,354 who were working without permits, after the government announced an exemption to overstay penalties a week ago, the Labour Ministry said on Sunday.

The number is expected to increase before the exemption period runs out at the end of the year.

“They are still registering and I expect the total number will reach 20,000 and beyond by the time the expiry period ends. The economy, due to the coronavirus, is bad and it is hitting expatriateshard,” said Dr Hamid Al Rawahi, a retired labour ministry adviser.

The registration for expats to leave Oman without paying overstay fine runs from November 15 until December 31, 2020.

Dr Al Rawahi said many expatriates who overstayed their visas were staying illegally while they hoped to find new jobs to pay for the fines and resume their careers in Oman.

“Labour ministry records show nearly 30,000 expatriates have already left Oman since Covid-19 started, most of them from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan,” Dr Al Rawahi said.

On Sunday, the Health Ministry announced 721 new Covid-19 cases and 15 deaths. The total number of cases in Oman has now reached 122,081 and 1,338 people have died from the virus.

But the Health Ministry said that the number of patients in intensive care has dropped by 33 per cent to just 121 compared with a month ago. The ministry attributed the reduction to early testing and awareness campaigns.

“Now most people get a diagnosis earlier because they rush to get tested when they feel the symptoms [and are] not waiting until the virus has hit them hard like it was before. Also, the media campaign on testing is working, too,” the ministry said.