Severity: Warning Alert
Entry/Exit: Authorities in the Gaza Strip announce the closure of the territory's borders to all arrivals through June 30 due to COVID-19 activity.
The locations affected by this alert are:
- Palestinian Territories
- Gaza City
This alert began 23 May 2020 23:53 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Event: Restrictions
- Location(s): Territorywide (map)
- Time Frame: Through June 30
- Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security
Authorities in the Gaza Strip announced that the territory's borders will be closed to all arrivals through June 30. The announcement followed a surge in confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among returnees from Egypt and Israel. Authorities previously reopened restaurants in the Gaza Strip beginning April 27. However, the establishments must maintain precautionary measures such as safe social distancing and regular sterilization of communal spaces. Mosques reopened from May 22 with similar precautionary measures. Schools and wedding halls remain closed in Gaza.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh previously 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). The curfew is a part of efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. All nonessential travel between and within governorates and villages in the West Bank has been prohibited. Residents are only permitted to leave their homes for essential purposes such as buying food and medicine. Pharmacies and bakeries continue to operate; however, all nonessential businesses are closed for the duration of the measure.
Authorities have eased some COVID-19 related restrictions in West Bank 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 resumed 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.
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.