Severity: Warning Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in the West Bank, Palestinian Territories, plan to close Jericho Governorate from 0800 July 22 - 0800 July 26 due to COVID-19.

  • Alert Begins: 22 Jul 2020 02:55 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 31 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Territorywide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security

Summary
Authorities in the West Bank announced the closure of Jericho Governorate, 0800 July 22-0800 July 26, due to increased coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. All nonessential movement within and in and out of the governorate is prohibited. Pharmacies and bakeries can remain open 0800-2000; all other nonessential businesses and institutions must close for the affected duration.

The Palestinian Authority previously extended the lockdown on all West Bank towns and governorates through at least July 26 to stem the spread of COVID-19. Officials prohibit all movement in the West Bank 2000-0600 on weekdays. Movement restrictions are also in place throughout the weekends from Thursday evening until Sunday morning; however, authorities did not specify the exact start and end times for the weekend curfew. Small businesses are permitted to operate in addition to pharmacies and supermarkets (in governorates other than Jericho), provided that they adhere to social distancing guidelines. The government's decision to allow small businesses to remain open followed protests from business owners over the alleged 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 must adhere to strict public health precautions, and authorities will shut those that fail to comply. Additionally, violators of COVID-19 restrictions will be subject to legal ramifications. Border crossings with Israel that officials had closed to Palestinian workers June 30 will remain shut until further notice. Palestinian workers in Israel can 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 in late May following a significant reduction in COVID-19 cases throughout the territory. Businesses, restaurants, and places of worship throughout the West Bank reopened May 26, provided they met certain public health requirements. Government ministries and courts resumed normal operations May 27; intercity travel and public transportation also resumed the same day. Authorities, however, reimposed restrictions, July 3, in response to increased COVID-19 infection rates.

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