Severity: Warning Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in Gaza shorten curfew hours in towns with lower COVID-19 activity Sept. 20. State of emergency in West Bank through Oct. 4.

Alert Begins 21 Sep 2020 12:59 AM UTC
Alert Expires 31 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Territorywide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security

Summary
Authorities in the Gaza Strip eased the existing 24-hour curfew in Abbad al-Rahman, Al-Nazla, Beit Lahiya, Jabalia al-Balad, and Sheikh Radwan Sept. 20 following an assessment of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity; the new curfew hours are in effect 2000-0700 nightly. Officials had previously shortened the 24-hour curfew to 2000-0700 in most areas, including Khan Yunus and Rafah governorates, due to decreasing COVID-19 cases. The 24-hour curfew will remain in effect until further notice for several locations, including Al-Nasr and Al-Jadida, where infection rates remain high. Officials require individuals to wear facemasks and adhere to social-distancing precautions in public. All travelers arriving in Gaza must quarantine at government-run facilities for 21 days. Nonessential businesses, schools, mosques, and cafes throughout Gaza are closed during the curfew. Officials are instructing residents to remain at home unless shopping for essential goods.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has extended West Bank's state of emergency through at least Oct. 4. Authorities are monitoring the epidemiological situation throughout the territory and will enact localized lockdowns on areas with increased COVID-19 activity. All social gatherings, including weddings, funerals, conferences, and graduation parties, remain banned throughout the West Bank until further notice. Border crossings with Israel remain closed.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) previously lifted some restrictions on business activity and gatherings in the West Bank. All businesses are permitted to operate on Fridays and Saturdays, provided they adhere to public health mandates issued by the Ministry of Health. Before the move, all nonessential businesses had to close on weekends from 2100 each Thursday evening until the following Sunday morning. Furthermore, Friday prayers are allowed in public squares, albeit with public health precautions, including mandatory protective face coverings and social distancing. Cafes, restaurants, sports clubs, and gyms can reopen at 50-percent capacity since early August. Businesses may operate from 0700 until 2359 daily unless authorities designate otherwise.

Officials could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The Palestinian Territories' travel restrictions and preventive measures are similar to actions other governments have been 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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