Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in Iraq extend suspension of flights through July 22 to slow spread of COVID-19. Other restrictions remain in place.

  • Alert Begins: 14 Jul 2020 02:53 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 28 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant travel and business disruptions, heightened security

Summary
Iraqi authorities have extended the suspension of all domestic and international flights through July 22 as part of the country's efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Commercial flights to Beirut, Lebanon, however, resumed as an exception July 2. The ban does not apply to emergency and cargo flights.

Authorities in Erbil Governorate, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), extended restrictive measures through at least July 18. All shops, except for pharmacies, must close 0000-0500, with a 24-hour curfew Friday. Medical clinics can only open from 1500-2000. Additionally, government institutions can operate Sunday through Wednesday at reduced capacity.

In Al-Qadisiyyah Governorate, authorities introduced a partial 1800-0500 curfew until further notice. All social events, including weddings, are banned under the measures. Additionally, 24-hour curfews remain in place in Dhi Qar and Wasit governorates indefinitely.

In the rest of Iraq, the Federal Government's weekly curfew 0600 Thursday through 0500 Sunday remains in place until further notice. Residents are not allowed to leave their homes during this period. In Baghdad, only health workers, media employees, and staff of Baghdad Municipality are exempt from the curfew. A partial 1800-0500 curfew remains in place Sundays through Wednesdays.

Other measures taken by the Iraqi government include:

 

  • Travel between governorates is banned.

 

  • All travelers to Iraq will be subject to 14 days of quarantine.

 

  • Residents must wear protective face coverings when outside their homes and observe social-distancing guidelines at all times.

 

  • Vehicles are not allowed to carry more than seven passengers.

 

  • Schools, restaurants, and shopping centers remain closed.

 

  • Large gatherings and religious services remain suspended until further notice.

 

  • Essential businesses, including pharmacies, fuel stations, and grocery stores, are exempt from the closure order.

 


Authorities could ease restrictions related to COVID-19 or implement additional preventative measures, depending on the disease activity in the coming days and weeks.

Background and Analysis
Iraq's travel restrictions and preventive measures are similar to 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.

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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