Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Iraq extends COVID-related flight suspensions through May 22, relax curfew hours for Ramadan.

This alert affects Iraq

This alert began 24 Apr 2020 18:03 GMT and is scheduled to expire 23 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 22
  • Impact: Significant travel and business disruptions; heightened security

Summary
Iraqi authorities have extended their existing suspension of domestic and international flights through 2000 May 22 as part of the country's efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The measure does not apply to emergency and cargo flights. Authorities have also introduced relaxed curfew hours for the observance of Ramadan, which began April 23. Through at least May 22, a 1900-0600 curfew will be in place Sunday through Thursday, while a 24-hour curfew will be in force on Fridays and Saturdays. Authorities will also permit some shops and markets to operate. Schools, restaurants, and shopping centers will remain closed, and large gatherings and religious services will be suspended until further notice. Pharmacies, fuel stations, and grocery stores are exempt from the closure order. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has also extended the closure of government departments through May 2.

Significant disruptions to public and private sector activities, including cross-border trade and the provision of travel documents and visas, will likely persist. Authorities could introduce new restrictions, depending on the evolution of disease activity in the coming days.

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.

Resources
Government of Iraq: gds.gov.iq

Kurdistan Regional Government: gov.krd

World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int