Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: International flights to and from Bhutan remain suspended as of June 9 due to COVID-19, while limited domestic flights have resumed.

  • Alert Begins: 09 Jun 2020 02:55 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 23 Jun 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel bans, business and transport disruptions, quarantine measures; possible clashes

Summary
International passenger flights to and from Bhutan remain suspended as of June 9 due to the government's response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19); some domestic flights have resumed. The Bhutanese government is maintaining its closure of all international borders, including the shared border with India, to foreign travelers. Additional nationwide measures, such as the prohibition of public gatherings and the closure of educational institutions, tourist sites, public venues, and entertainment sites, continue. Any essential businesses that are allowed to operate must close by 1900.

Ongoing restrictions on entry and reentry for all foreigners with any form of visa, work permit, or immigration permit will continue until further notice. Those holding diplomatic, official, and international organization passports are also denied entry; only Bhutanese citizens and residents are allowed to enter. All returnees are required to undergo a 21-day quarantine after repatriation. Foreigners are allowed to exit the country. Bhutanese air carriers, such as Druk Air (KB) and Bhutan Airlines (B3), have operated some charter flights to repatriate Bhutanese citizens.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days 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.

Advice
Follow all official instructions; minimize outdoor activity to the extent possible. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm business appointments, deliveries, work, and travel arrangements. Do not check out of accommodation without confirming onward travel. 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. Ensure access to essential items. Carry proper identification documents, heed all security advisories.

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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