Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Authorities extend all valid and expired visas in Bahrain through at least Oct. 21. Other COVID-19 restrictions remain in place.
- Alert Begins: 27 Jul 2020 11:29 AM UTC
- Alert Expires: 31 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: Restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Travel and business disruptions
Bahraini authorities extended all valid and expired visit visas through at least Oct. 21. As of July 27, officials are permitting Saudi Arabian nationals currently residing in Bahrain to return to Saudi Arabia via the King Fahd Causeway with precautionary measures in place. The causeway has remained closed to regular travel since March 7 due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions on both sides of the border.
Other measures taken by the government of Bahrain include:
- Several economic activities, such as salons, barbershops, and nonessential medical services, resumed operations May 28. Employees and customers are required to observe the country's social distancing guidelines. Outdoor cinemas are also allowed to reopen, but indoor theaters, gyms, and recreational centers remain closed until further notice. Restaurants remain restricted to food delivery and takeaway only.
- Bahrain's flag carrier - Gulf Air (GF) - announced April 4 that international travelers are allowed to transit through Bahrain International Airport (BAH). Full entry into Bahrain remains restricted to Bahraini citizens and residents only.
- Bahraini authorities introduced legislation April 7, making the wearing of face coverings while out in public compulsory until further notice.
- Visas on arrival remain suspended for foreigners until further notice since March 18. Electronic visa services and other types of visas are open to the public, and visas issued by authorities before the introduction of COVID-19-associated restrictions 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 notice.
- Gulf Air is operating to multiple locations 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.
- 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 five 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.