Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Kazakhstan to reintroduce hard lockdown in North Kazakhstan Region July 24-27 and July 31-Aug. 3 to slow spread of COVID-19.

  • Alert Begins: 22 Jul 2020 09:48 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 03 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Regional health authorities will reimpose hard lockdown measures in the North Kazakhstan Region July 24-27 and July 31-Aug. 3, due to a significant increase in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections. All nonessential retail stores will be closed; grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open. Residents may not leave the region and may only leave their homes to travel to work, visit pharmacies or grocery stores, or to seek medical attention. All public transport will be suspended for the duration of the weekend lockdowns. Parks, squares and other outdoor public spaces will be closed. Restaurants and cafes may only open for delivery.

Although national authorities have begun a phased easing of restrictions since lifting the state of emergency May 11, the nationwide lockdown regime was extended until July 31 in response to a continuous surge in case numbers. Under the lockdown regime, several nonessential businesses, including covered markets, leisure facilities, and beauty salons, will remain closed; grocery stores, pharmacies, and retailers occupying floor space of less than 2,000 square meters (21,528 square feet) will continue to operate. Manufacturing, construction, transport, and financial service businesses are permitted to operate, provided employers enforce strict health and hygiene precautions.

National authorities continue to maintain restrictions on inter-provincial travel. Inter-provincial bus services are suspended, though domestic flights and rail services continue. Public transport operators will continue to run limited commuter and regional services under reduced hours of operation. 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. Public parks, squares, and other outdoor public spaces have also reopened. Residents must wear face masks and practice social distancing at all times while in public.

Kazakhstan has resumed international flights to several countries, including Turkey, China, South Korea, Thailand, Georgia, and Japan. 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.

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
As Kazakhstan relaxes blanket restrictions, authorities could begin to reintroduce sporadic, highly targeted measures in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks. Such measures could apply to specific regions, urban centers, neighborhoods, or even individual facilities, including schools, factories, or accommodation and office blocks.

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.

Back to the COVID-19 Risk Intelligence & Resource Center