Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Kazakhstan to ease several COVID-19-related restrictions allowing cafes, restaurants, hotels, and places of worship to reopen from May 18.

This alert affects Kazakhstan

This alert began 13 May 2020 21:42 GMT and is scheduled to expire 10 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Continued travel and business disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Kazakhstan plan to ease several restrictions that had been implemented as part of the country's response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) starting on May 18. Under the new directive, hotels, small restaurants and cafes, and places of worship will be allowed to reopen. Authorities also plan to gradually resume rail traffic in the country from June 1.

Kazakhstan lifted its COVID-19-related state of emergency as of May 11. Nonessential retail stores occupying floor space of up to 2,000 square meters (21,528 square feet) have been allowed to reopen. Beauty salons and child development centers may also reopen. Public parks, squares, and other outdoor public spaces have been reopened as well; residents may exercise outdoors in groups of no more than three persons. Reduced public transport services have resumed in Nur-Sultan as of May 12. Residents must wear face masks and practice social distancing at all times while in public. Domestic air travel has largely resumed as of May 11; flights to Kostanay and Usharal resumed May 13. These moves follow an earlier round of relaxations on April 27, under which the government allowed workers in the manufacturing, construction, transport, and financial sectors to return to their jobs, provided employers enforce strict health and hygiene precautions.

Despite the relaxation of certain measures, a strict quarantine remains in force nationwide. Residents may not travel between different cities and regions of Kazakhstan, with the exception of essential workers and emergency services personnel. Police checkpoints erected on intercity and regional roads continue to enforce the movement restrictions. Shopping malls and entertainment venues remain closed nationwide. Mass events and public gatherings remain banned. Schools and educational institutions remain closed.

Kazakhstan's borders remain closed, effectively banning entry into the country, except for returning Kazakh citizens, diplomats, and those invited by the government; Kazakh citizens are also prohibited from leaving the country. Officials hold individuals entering Kazakhstan from abroad for two days for laboratory testing. The restrictions do not apply to freight transport, though delays are likely at checkpoints due to increased checks.

Authorities may extend or amend restrictive measures with little warning depending on disease activity in the country.

Background and Analysis
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
Minimize movement within quarantine zones and allow additional time for travel. Reconfirm all flights. Reconfirm business appointments. Follow all official directives. Abide by national health and safety measures. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Prepare for freight delivery disruptions. Consider delaying or detouring goods. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation.

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.


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