Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in Kazakhstan to extend nationwide coronavirus disease (COVID-19) related lockdown regime until July 31.

  • Alert Begins: 13 Jul 2020 04:12 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 13 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Authorities in Kazakhstan have extended the nationwide coronavirus disease (COVID-19) related lockdown regime until July 31; the measure was previously slated to expire on July 19. The extension is in response to a continuous surge in case numbers.

Under the lockdown regime, several nonessential businesses, including covered markets and leisure and beauty facilities, will remain closed, and authorities will maintain restrictions on inter-provincial travel; groceries and pharmacies will continue to operate. Public transport will continue to run limited services and restricted hours of operation. Inter-provincial bus services are suspended, though domestic flights and rail services will continue. Mass gatherings, including religious services and family events, are prohibited; groups of more than three people are prohibited from meeting in public places. People over the age of 65 years are prohibited from leaving their accommodation except in an emergency. Access to several major cities, including Nur-Sultan and Almaty, remains restricted.

Kazakhstan has resumed international flights to several countries, including Turkey, China, South Korea, Thailand, Georgia, and Japan. The Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development has stated that the resumption of further flights will be carried out in phases to prevent a rapid rise in COVID-19 cases. No further restrictions on international flights are planned at this stage. Kazakhstan's borders remain closed to most foreign nationals; entry is not allowed, except for returning Kazakh citizens, diplomats, and those invited by the government. Officials will hold individuals entering Kazakhstan from abroad for two days for laboratory testing; symptomatic individuals will be hospitalized, while those not displaying symptoms are required to self-isolate for a further 12 days. Kazakh citizens are prohibited from leaving the country.

Kazakhstan has implemented a phased easing of restrictions since it lifted its state of emergency on May 11. Nonessential retail stores occupying floor space of up to 2,000 square meters (21,528 square feet) have been allowed to reopen. Manufacturing, construction, transport, and financial service businesses are permitted to operate, provided employers enforce strict health and hygiene precautions. Public parks, squares, and other outdoor public spaces have also reopened. Residents must wear facemasks and practice social distancing at all times while in public.

Authorities could extend or amend restrictive measures - including the imposition of localized quarantine zones - with little warning depending on disease activity in the country.

Background and Analysis
The restrictive measures taken by Kazakhstan are similar to actions taken by other governments in the region 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.

Check access requirements if traveling to major cities, and minimize movement within any quarantined zones; allow additional time for travel. Reconfirm all flights and 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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