Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Azerbaijan extends all coronavirus-related restrictions until 0001 May 4. Freight transport not affected. Further extensions likely.

This alert affects Azerbaijan

This alert began 18 Apr 2020 19:51 GMT and is scheduled to expire 04 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: COVID-related restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least 0001 May 4
  • Impact: Severe business and travel disruptions

Summary
Azerbaijan's Cabinet of Ministers issued an order April 18 extending the nation's existing special quarantine regimen until 0001 May 4 as part of the country's effort to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The edict also extends all restrictions that have been implemented as part of the special quarantine; the quarantine and associated restrictions had originally been slated to expire at 0001 April 20.

COVID-related restrictions and other preventative measures currently in effect in Azerbaijan 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.
  • Land and air borders remain closed to all passenger traffic, essentially halting all incoming and outgoing passenger traffic by land and air. Although authorities have not specifically addressed Caspian Sea borders, the Port of Baku's international passenger and ferry terminal has probably effectively shut down under other border closures and movement restrictions implemented earlier. International cargo transport remains unaffected.
  • All schools, universities, and other educational institutions remain closed.
  • Employees of several government agencies have been placed on paid furlough, although specific affected organizations have not been announced.


Additionally, the government has implemented a special SMS-based system by which residents - including foreign nationals - can obtain permission from authorities to be outside their homes for specific essential needs. Moreover, foreign nationals whose visas are due to expire by April 30 and are unable to leave Azerbaijan may obtain a 30- or 60-day visa extension for fees of AZN 15 (USD 8.80) or AZN 30 (USD 17.60) respectively.

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

Republic of Azerbaijan Coronavirus Information Portal: koronavirusinfo.az

Text of Special Quarantine Extension Order (in Azeri): cabmin.gov.az/media