Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Algeria make wearing of facemasks in public mandatory from May 24; lockdown measures in place till May 30 due to COVID-19.

This alert affects Algeria

This alert began 20 May 2020 19:16 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Business and transport disruptions; heightened security

Summary
Authorities in Algeria have announced that facemasks will be mandatory in public from May 24 until further notice as part of their efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The government further notes that facemasks will be provided in sufficient quantities for the population. Failure to comply with the edict will result in legal action; authorities have not elaborated upon what exactly legal action entails.

Authorities have extended the nation's existing lockdown and other preventative measures through May 30. The announcement came a few days after authorities eased certain restrictions related to COVID-19 for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began in the country on April 24. A full lockdown that had been in force in Blida Province was lifted and replaced with a daily 1400-0700 curfew. Existing curfews in effect in Algiers, Tipaza, Tizi Ouzou, Medea, Setif, Oran, Tlemcen, Ain Defla, and Bejaia provinces were shortened by two hours and now run 1700-0700 nightly, rather than the previous 1500-0700. Curfew hours of 1900-0700 will remain in effect for the rest of the nation's provinces until further notice.

Other measures taken by the Algerian government to slow the spread of COVID-19 include:

  • A ban is in place on any public gatherings of more than two people, with the exception of people working on curbing the spread of COVID-19.
  • A ban is in place on traffic to and from Blida Province; residents can only travel outside the province with authorization from local authorities.
  • All public transportation services, including ride-sharing services, are suspended; all cafes, restaurants, and shopping centers are closed, except grocery stores, pharmacies, and clinics.
  • Social distancing rules requiring individuals to remain 1 meter (3 feet) apart must be followed when interacting with others.
  • All public and private schools and universities are closed until further notice.
  • Land, air, and sea passenger connections are suspended until further notice; freight transport remains unaffected.


Residents are allowed to perform certain basic tasks, such as shopping for food or other goods from essential businesses, traveling to/from their places of employment, seeking medical assistance, or engaging in individual fitness activities outdoors. Significant transport and business disruptions are likely.

Authorities have tasked the nation's various police departments with enforcing the COVID-19-related measures; violators could face fines or criminal penalties. Officials could amend the order on short notice, depending on the evolution of disease activity in the coming days and weeks.

Background and Analysis
Algeria's preventive measures are similar to actions other governments are taking globally in response to the spread of COVID-19, a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all business appointments and travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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