Severity: Warning Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities extend lockdown in West Bank, Palestinian Territories, through July 26 due to COVID-19 activity. Other measures remain in place.

  • Alert Begins: 13 Jul 2020 11:05 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 31 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Event: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Territorywide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security

Summary
The Palestinian Authority extended the lockdown on all West Bank towns and governorates through at least July 26 in efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Travel throughout the West Bank is prohibited from 2000-0600 in all governorates for the duration of the measure. Travel is also prohibited on weekends (which extends from Thursday evening until Sunday morning); however, precise start and end times for the weekend curfew were not specified. Small businesses will be permitted to operate in addition to pharmacies and supermarkets, provided that they adhere to social distancing guidelines. The decision to allow small businesses to remain open followed protests from business owners regarding the negative economic impact of continued closures.

All social gatherings, including weddings, funerals, conferences, and graduation parties, are banned throughout the West Bank until further notice. All businesses are required to adhere to strict public health precautions, and those that fail to comply will be closed by authorities. Additionally, violators of COVID-19 restrictions will be subject to legal ramifications. Border crossings into Israel closed to Palestinian workers June 30 and will remain closed until further notice. Palestinian workers located in Israel will be permitted to return to the West Bank beginning July 16.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas previously extended the territories' state of emergency through at least Aug. 3. Authorities in the West Bank had earlier eased restrictions related to COVID-19 in late May following a significant reduction in cases throughout the territory. Businesses, restaurants, and places of worship throughout the West Bank were permitted to reopen May 26, provided they meet certain public health requirements. Government ministries and courts throughout the territory resumed normal operations on May 27. Intercity travel and public transportation likewise resumed May 27. However, restrictions were re-imposed on July 3 in response to increased COVID-19 infection rates.

In the Gaza Strip, authorities reopened restaurants beginning April 27; however, the establishments must maintain precautionary measures such as safe social distancing and regular sterilization of communal spaces. Mosques reopened from May 22 with similar precautionary measures.

Background and Analysis
The Palestinian Territories' travel restrictions and preventive measures are similar to actions other governments are taking globally in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is 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 WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all 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. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. 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.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. 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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