Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Kazakhstan to permit flights with additional countries as of Sept. 10. Significant COVID-19-related business and travel disruptions remain.

Alert Begins 09 Sep 2020 12:14 PM UTC
Alert Expires 30 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

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

Summary
As of Sept. 10, authorities in Kazakhstan will permit flights to resume with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, though carriers will initially offer only limited services. Authorities previously allowed flights to resume with several countries, including Turkey, China, South Korea, Thailand, Georgia, and Japan. The resumption of further flights will be carried out in phases. No further restrictions on international flights are planned. Kazakhstan's borders remain closed to foreign nationals of countries with which flights have not resumed; entry is not allowed, except for returning Kazakh citizens, diplomats, and those invited by the government. Individuals entering Kazakhstan from abroad are typically held for two days for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing; symptomatic individuals are hospitalized, while those not displaying symptoms must self-isolate for a further 12 days. Kazakh citizens are only permitted to travel to countries with which Kazakhstan has resumed direct flights.

Kazakh authorities launched the second stage of the country's COVID-19 recovery plan Aug. 31 due to a decrease in infection rates, concurrently easing a number of COVID-19 related restrictions. Suburban passenger trains, electric trains, and intercity/intraregional buses and minibuses are allowed to resume operations. In addition, places of worship are permitted to open their doors for private prayer; swimming pools and gyms are also allowed to reopen under strict social distancing guidance and on a reservation-only basis. Furthermore, cultural facilities may resume operations, although they are limited to 50-percent capacity; specially protected natural areas will also reopen.

The Kazakh government had already permitted many nonessential businesses to reopen, including shopping centers, retailers, covered markets, salons, and restaurants; all establishments must operate at reduced capacity, enforce social distancing, and provide hand sanitizer. Public parks, squares, and other outdoor public spaces have also reopened. Residents may exercise in groups of no more than five people; national and club teams may also resume training in groups of no more than 30. Authorities continue to recommend that establishments allow employees to work from home; offices are limited to having no more than 20 percent of their staff working on site. Additionally, persons over 65 years of age are not be permitted to leave their accommodations except in case of emergency.

National authorities continue to maintain some business and travel restrictions. Access to several major cities, including Nur-Sultan and Almaty, remains restricted. Bars, nightclubs, karaoke, food courts, and cinemas are not currently permitted to operate, and tougher restrictions enforced during weekends ensure that additional businesses remain closed. Mass gatherings, including religious services and family events, remain prohibited; groups of more than five people are prohibited from meeting in public places. Residents must wear protective face coverings and practice social distancing at all times while in public.

Authorities could reimpose, extend, further ease, or otherwise amend any restrictions with little-to-no notice depending on disease activity over the coming weeks.

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.

Advice
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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