Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Azerbaijan to maintain most COVID-19-related restrictions until 0001 May 4. Restrictions on several businesses to be relaxed from April 27.

This alert affects Azerbaijan

This alert began 26 Apr 2020 12:00 GMT and is scheduled to expire 04 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19-related restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least 0001 May 4
  • Impact: Severe business and travel disruptions

Summary
Azerbaijan's government is maintaining 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). However, a Cabinet of Ministers Task Force has made the decision to lift restrictions on a wide range of businesses and services, beginning 0001 April 27.

Restrictions will be lifted for several retail stores and cleaning, tailoring, print, and electronic repairs services. Shopping malls, however, will remain closed. While education institutions will also remain closed, restrictions will be lifted for individual tutoring and teaching. Employers need to register staff on a government portal to permit them to resume operations. The government's special SMS-based system by which residents - including foreign nationals - can obtain permission from authorities to be outside their homes for specific essential needs is still in place; however, passes have been increased from two to three hours.

Existing restrictions and other preventative measures that will remain in effect in Azerbaijan include:

  • Residents are required to continue to stay at home, except to perform essential tasks and business.
  • Persons above the age of 65 are prohibited from leaving their homes, with government assistance 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.
  • All schools, universities, and other educational institutions remain closed.
  • Employees of some government agencies have been placed on paid furlough, although specific affected organizations have not been announced.
  • 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. 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. The decision to ease the restrictions was made by the Cabinet of Ministers Task Force following epidemiological considerations, including the dynamics of the spread and geography of the disease. Should the number of COVID-19 cases significantly increase, relaxed restrictions may be reapplied. Likewise, a continued low number of cases may result in a further relaxation of restrictions.

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 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.

 


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