Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Authorities in Iraq extend suspension of flights through July 15 to slow spread of COVID-19. Other restrictions remain in place.
- Alert Begins: 02 Jul 2020 03:08 AM UTC
- Alert Expires: 16 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
Iraqi authorities have extended the suspension of flights through July 15 as part of the country's efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Commercial flights to Beirut, Lebanon, however, will resume as an exception, from July 2. The ban does not apply to emergency and cargo flights.
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.
Additionally, 24-hour curfews are in place in Al Karbala Governorate through July 4, and indefinitely in Dhi Qar and Wasit governorates.
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)
Authorities in Erbil Governorate imposed a 24-hour curfew from June 30 to July 4 to curb the spread of COVID-19. All shops, except for those selling basic necessities, are closed during this period. Individuals working in slaughterhouses, agriculture, and farming are only allowed to move from 1200-0600. In Sulaymaniyah Governorate, authorities extended the closure of government institutions, mosques, parks, and restaurants through at least July 4.
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.
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.