Severity: Critical Alert
Entry/Exit: Authorities in Bahrain ease some COVID-19 restrictions from May 7; employees and customers required to wear face masks.
This alert affects Bahrain
This alert began 06 May 2020 20:42 GMT and is scheduled to expire 05 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Incident: Restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Travel and business disruptions
On May 6, authorities in Bahrain announced that they would ease restrictions related to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) beginning May 7. Shops and industrial enterprises can reopen but employees and customers are required to wear face masks and observe the country's social distancing guidelines. Movie theaters, sports centers, and salons will remain closed until further notice. Restaurants will remain restricted to food delivery and takeaway only.
Authorities previously permitted certain nonessential commercial operations, including retail stores in Seef Mall's branches in Isa Town, Muhharaq city, and Seef district, to resume from April 9. Nonessential commercial retail stores, including those within Seef Mall's branches, will operate 1200-2000 during the week. Grocery stores, medical facilities, banks, and other essential businesses continue to be open 1000-2200 weekdays and 1000-2300 on weekends.
Other measures taken by the government of Bahrain include:
- Bahrain's flag carrier - Gulf Air (GF) - announced April 4 that transit through Bahrain International Airport (BAH) is now permitted for international travelers. Full entry into Bahrain remains restricted to Bahraini citizens and residents only.
- Bahraini authorities introduced legislation April 7, making the wearing of face masks while out in public compulsory until further notice.
- Visas will be suspended on arrival for foreigners until further notice from March 18. Electronic visa services and other types of visas will still be open to the public, and visas issued by authorities before the COVID-19-associated restrictions were put in place will still be valid. From March 18, all nondiplomatic passengers to the country must obtain an e-visa before their departure. The Civil Aviation Affairs (CAA) also announced a reduction in the number of incoming flights to the Kingdom from March 18 until further.
- Gulf Air is to operate just 13 of its 49 destinations on reduced service, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, London, Paris, Frankfurt, and Mumbai.
- Flights to and from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan, and Morocco remain suspended until further notice.
- The King Fahd Causeway, linking Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, remains closed until further notice;
- All individuals arriving in-country from other destinations will be subject to medical examinations recommended by the WHO and will be required to self-isolate for 14 days from the date of their arrival.
- Gatherings of more than 20 people are prohibited. All public and private schools, universities, and nurseries remain closed until further notice.
Background and Analysis
Bahrain's 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.
Individuals affected by the restrictions should consider postponing planned travel. 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.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.