Severity: Warning Alert

Entry/Exit: Egyptian authorities temporarily open Gazan-Egyptian Rafah border crossing through April 16 to allow Palestinians to return to Gaza Strip.

This alert affects Palestinian Territories

This alert began 13 Apr 2020 18:19 GMT and is scheduled to expire 04 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Territorywide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 4
  • Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security

On April 13, Egyptian authorities temporarily opened the Gazan-Egyptian Rafah border crossing to allow hundreds of Palestinians to return to the Gaza Strip. The border crossing will remain open for at least four days. All returnees will be subject to a 14-day quarantine period.

On April 4, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas extended the Palestinian Territories' for second 30-day period as part of his administration's effort to combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The measure will now remain in effect through at least May 5. Additionally, Palestinian authorities ordered further restrictions on the movement of residents in all governorates, which will remain in effect until further notice.

Residents will be restricted to movement within their communities for the purpose of performing essential tasks between the hours of 1000-1700 daily. Residents may not leave their homes outside of this time frame except to work in vital sectors, such as health services or other critical infrastructure. All nonessential businesses and government agencies have closed. Travel between governorates is banned. Security forces have deployed in cities throughout the territories to enforce these measures.

Authorities barred tourists from entering and prohibited hotels throughout the West Bank from receiving foreigners. Educational institutions, places of worship, entertainment venues, and holy sites have closed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Authorities also canceled major sporting events and other large gatherings.

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.

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.