Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Authorities in Iraq suspend flights with Iran through Oct. 8 due to COVID-19 concerns. Other measures remain in place.
Alert Begins 25 Sep 2020 03:10 AM UTC
Alert Expires 23 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Significant travel and business disruptions, heightened security
Authorities in Iraq announced the suspension of flights with Iran through Oct. 8 due to the increasing number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Iran. Meanwhile, commercial flights to other countries resumed July 23. Travelers flying to Iraq have to take a COVID-19 test not more than 48 hours before the trip. Additionally, the border crossings of al-Munzariyah and al-Shaib with Iran, and Safwan with Kuwait, reopened July 23.
The nationwide daily curfew 2200-0500 remains in place until further notice. Restaurants and five-star hotels can resume operations while shopping malls can reopen, provided they adhere to social distancing guidelines. Government agencies can operate with up to 50 percent of their employees. Additionally, sporting events resumed without live audiences Sept. 12.
In the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), authorities lifted the ban on travel between the region's governorates and with the rest of Iraq Aug. 21. The region's border crossings with Iran remain closed to tourists but are open for commercial purposes. Airports in the region reopened Aug. 1. All outbound and inbound travelers at airports in the KRG must prove that they tested negative for COVID-19 48 hours before their flight. Outbound passengers who wish to take the COVID-19 test must arrive at government-designated clinics with passports, face coverings, and at least IQD 100,000 (USD 84); authorities will only accept Iraqi currency for payment. Test results are likely to arrive within 24-48 hours. Travelers intending to take the test at the airport for outbound flights may face delays. All arrivals are required to quarantine for at least 14 days. Authorities will exempt officials, business travelers, and tourists on a short stay.
Other measures taken by the Iraqi government include:
- Travel between governorates is banned unless in necessary circumstances.
- Residents must wear facemasks when outside their homes and observe social-distancing guidelines at all times.
- Vehicles are not allowed to carry more than seven passengers.
- 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.