Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Bangladesh eases domestic COVID-19 restrictions effective Sept. 1; medical certification largely mandatory for entry and exit.

Alert Begins 01 Sep 2020 05:52 AM UTC
Alert Expires 30 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Some transport and business disruptions, increased security; possible clashes

Summary
As of Sept. 1, Bangladeshi authorities are easing several domestic restrictions introduced nationwide to control the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Officials are removing the nightly ban on public movement and allowing resumption of public transport such as buses and trains. Buses may function with full passenger load, while trains will run with a maximum of 50 percent occupancy. Domestic flights partially resumed June 1 and are operating on limited routes. Businesses may function with social distancing measures; residents must wear masks when in public and stay home to the extent possible. Large gatherings and the opening of educational institutions remain prohibited.

Local authorities are free to impose strict measures, such as banning nonessential activity, movement, and transport in identified high-risk areas; such restrictions typically last up to 21 days. Enforcement levels and public compliance are reportedly insufficient in many urban areas.

Sporadic clashes are possible if any group attempts to enforce business closures or defy official orders, such as capacity limits on congregational prayers. Labor demonstrations over wage and bonus issues are likely to continue, mainly outside garment factories in cities; tens to hundreds of workers may gather at each protest, prompting localized traffic congestion. Police will likely act quickly and forcefully to control any disruptions or violence.

Travel Restrictions

Authorities have revised guidelines to mandate all outbound travelers required by air carriers or destination countries to obtain medical certification from a government-approved facility confirming a negative COVID-19 test result before departure; previous regulations made testing compulsory for almost all outgoing passengers. International commercial flights resumed June 16. Visa-on-arrival services remain suspended until further notice; those intending to enter Bangladesh may approach their local Bangladeshi mission for visa issuance. Authorities require foreign nationals traveling to Bangladesh by air, land, or sea to obtain a medical certificate within 72 hours of departure, indicating that they are COVID-19 negative; entrants must self-isolate for 14 days after arrival. Inbound travelers with a No Visa Required (NVR) certificate and without a medical certificate must undergo a 14-day quarantine in a government facility.

Land border crossings have opened for passenger transit, though restrictions by neighboring countries like India severely limit such travel. Cross-border trade is operational. Ground freight transport disruptions have occurred sporadically at the Petrapole-Benapole checkpoint on the Bangladesh-India border; recurrent disruptions are possible.

Background and Analysis
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.

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. Plan for ground shipping and travel delays; seek alternative routes and shipping methods for time-sensitive cargo.

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.


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