Severity: Warning Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities announce a curfew throughout the Palestinian Territories' West Bank from the evening of May 22 through May 25 due to COVID-19.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Palestinian Territories
  • Gaza City

This alert began 20 May 2020 21:17 GMT and is scheduled to expire 05 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Territorywide (map)
  • Time Frame: Eid curfew through May 25; State of emergency through at least June 5
  • Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security

Summary
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced a curfew throughout the West Bank from the evening of May 22 through May 25 for Eid Al-Fitr (the Feast of Breaking the Ramadan Fast). Shtayyeh did not specify an official start time for the curfew May 22. The curfew is a part of efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). All nonessential travel between and within governorates and villages in the West Bank will be prohibited. Residents will only be permitted to leave their homes for essential purposes such as buying food and medicine. Pharmacies and bakeries will continue to operate; however, all nonessential businesses will close for the duration of the measure.

Authorities have eased some COVID-19 related restrictions in governorates without COVID-19 cases. Select businesses such as barbershops and hair salons have been permitted to resume operations in these governorates, albeit with limitations on their hours of operation and with strict public health requirements such as mandatory face masks and gloves. Construction sites, clothing stores, and businesses selling home appliances have been permitted to reopen in all governorates. However, these businesses are only permitted to operate for three days a week in governorates with COVID-19 cases. Public transportation has resumed in the governorates of Tubas, Jenin, Tulkarem, Qalqilia, Salfit, and Jericho. Government agencies and courts have resumes operations.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas previously extended the Palestinian Territories' state of emergency until June 5 as part of his administration's efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19. Educational institutions and places of worship remain closed territory-wide. Public gatherings are prohibited. A separate West Bank 1700-1000 curfew remains in effect until further notice. Security forces have deployed in cities throughout the territories to enforce these measures.

Gazan authorities reopened restaurants in the Gaza Strip for the month of Ramadan as of April 27. Officials previously closed restaurants to curb the spread of COVID-19. The establishments, however, must maintain precautionary measures such as high levels of hygiene and safe social distancing. On April 17, Egyptian authorities resumed the closure of the Gazan-Egyptian Rafah border crossing. Egypt temporarily opened the border to allow hundreds of Palestinians to return to Gaza on April 13. All returnees are subject to a 21-day quarantine period.

Background and Analysis
The Palestinian Territories' travel restrictions and preventive measures correspond with similar 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.

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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