Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Azerbaijan closes land and air borders to all passenger traffic through April 20 due to COVID-19 activity. Freight transport not affected.

This alert affects Azerbaijan

This alert began 04 Apr 2020 19:25 GMT and is scheduled to expire 20 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: COVID-related restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least April 20
  • Impact: Severe business and travel disruptions

Summary
Azerbaijan's Cabinet of Ministers issued an order April 4 mandating that the nation's land and air borders close to all passenger traffic effective 0001 April 5 as part of the country's effort to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The closure will halt all incoming and outgoing passenger traffic by land and air; it will remain in force until at least 0001 April 20. It remains unclear whether residents of Azerbaijan will be allowed to return home once the closure goes into effect. Although Caspian Sea borders were not specifically addressed in the Cabinet of Ministers edict, the Port of Baku's international passenger and ferry terminal has probably effectively shut down under other border closures and movement restrictions implemented earlier. The order does not apply to international cargo transport.

The April 4 resolution is in addition to the restrictions imposed following the government's declaration of a "Special Quarantine Regimen" through April 20. These include:

  • All nonessential businesses and establishments are closed; all residents are required to stay at home, except to perform essential tasks.
  • Persons above the age of 65 are prohibited from leaving their homes, with government assistance to be available to seniors in this category who live alone.
  • Entry into and exit from the cities of Baku and Sumqayit, as well as the general Absheron Peninsula region, is restricted, with the exception of emergency responders and vehicles transporting freight.
  • All public and private intercity and interregional passenger transport is suspended.
  • Public gatherings of more than 10 persons are prohibited.
  • Residents returning to Azerbaijan from abroad must undergo a medical examination, as well as 14-21 days of compulsory quarantine.


Moreover, all schools, universities, and other educational institutions will remain closed through at least April 18. Employees of several government agencies have been placed on paid furlough through April 29, although specific affected organizations have not been announced.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has been tasked with enforcing the special quarantine regimen; violators may be subject to administrative penalties or criminal charges. Additional restrictions are likely in the coming days depending on disease activity.

Background and Analysis
Azerbaijan's travel restrictions and 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 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.

Resources
Republic of Azerbaijan Cabinet of Ministers (in Azeri): cabmin.gov.az