Severity: Warning Alert

Entry/Exit: Iraqi authorities bar entry to foreigners from Germany and Qatar from March 13 until further notice to stem spread of COVID-19.

This alert affects Iraq

This alert began 13 Mar 2020 22:09 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Entry restrictions; health screenings; increased immigration wait times; business closures

Summary
The Iraqi Ministry of Health announced March 13 that foreigners would be barred from entering Iraq from Germany and Qatar until further notice. Iraqi authorities had previously prohibited foreigners arriving from France, Nigeria, Spain, Turkey, Bahrain, China, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand from entering the country. The ban excludes foreign diplomats. Authorities have also prohibited domestic travel between provinces March 15-25, except for emergencies, trade, and job commuting purposes. The travel restrictions come amid a series of measures to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). As of March 13, Iraqi authorities have confirmed at least 90 cases of the disease.

Additionally, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) will implement a 48-hour curfew in the cities of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, and the surrounding towns, starting at 0001 March 14. Further measures, including the implementation or extension of curfews and other restrictions, are likely in the KRG and elsewhere in Iraq over the coming days and weeks. On March 11, the KRG announced the cancellation of the Nowruz (Persian New Year) holiday celebrations, scheduled to take place March 21-25. Nowruz is a national secular holiday in Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran and is celebrated annually by millions of people.

Government offices and shopping centers throughout Iraq have limited operating hours. Schools and universities will remain closed through at least March 21. The Iraqi Border Ports Authority has suspended trade with Iran and Kuwait March 8-15 to allow the Ministry of Health time to organize its response to the spread of COVID-19. Iraqis who are currently in Iran will be allowed to return to Iraq as usual until March 15, after which they will be subject to unspecified health screenings and disease prevention measures.

Major religious gatherings are prohibited through at least March 24. Authorities have also imposed a temporary lockdown on An-Najaf Province starting March 11 and are preventing non-residents from entering for one week. An-Najaf is home to many holy Muslim Shi'a sites and is a major destination for pilgrims.

Advice
Plan for resulting business disruptions. Individuals affected by the restrictions should postpone planned travel. Follow all official immigration and health-screening instructions. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. 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
Kurdistan Regional Government: gov.krd/coronavirus-en