Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Iraq allow resumption of some commercial activities and relax curfew hours from April 21 to May 22 for Ramadan.

This alert affects Iraq

This alert began 21 Apr 2020 16:43 GMT and is scheduled to expire 22 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

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

Summary
Iraqi authorities announced new curfew hours from April 21 through at least May 22 for the observance of Ramadan. Curfew hours will be from 1900-0600 Sunday through Thursday and for 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays. Authorities will also permit some commercial stores, such as 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 will continue to operate as usual. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has also extended the closure of government departments through May 2. The relaxation of measures will likely be reversed at the end of Ramadan.

All flights remain suspended through at least April 24 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.

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 restrictive measures, depending on the evolution of disease activity in the coming days.

Background and Analysis
Iraq's 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.

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