Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Authorities in Kurdistan Regional Government, Iraq, ease COVID-19 restrictions; travel between governorates allowed as of July 22.

  • Alert Begins: 22 Jul 2020 04:33 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 05 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant travel and business disruptions, heightened security

Summary
Authorities in Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced that it would allow travel between the region's governorates, as of July 22, as part of measures to ease coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions. Officials also said that airports in the region would reopen Aug. 1. Travel between the KRG and the rest of Iraq, however, remains banned.

In the rest of Iraq, the Federal Government announced that passenger flights would resume July 23. Commercial flights to Beirut, Lebanon, however, resumed as an exception July 2. Additionally, the border crossings of al-Munzariyah and al-Shaib with Iran, and Safwan with Kuwait, will reopen July 23. Shopping malls will also be allowed to reopen, provided they adhere to social distancing guidelines.

The nationwide daily curfew hours 2100-0500 Sundays to Wednesdays with 24-hour daily curfews Thursdays through Saturdays remain in place until further notice. In Wasit Governorate, authorities reduced curfew hours to 2200-0500 and allowed religious sites to reopen, provided they comply with health measures. In Al-Qadisiyyah Governorate, authorities maintain a partial 1800-0500 curfew until further notice. All social events, including weddings, are banned under the measures. Additionally, a 24-hour curfew remains in place in Dhi Qar Governorate indefinitely.

Other measures taken by the Iraqi government include:

 

  • Travel between governorates is banned.

 

  • All travelers to Iraq will be subject to 14 days of quarantine.

 

  • Residents must wear protective face coverings when outside their homes and observe social-distancing guidelines at all times.

 

  • Vehicles are not allowed to carry more than seven passengers.

 

  • Schools, restaurants, and shopping centers remain closed.

 

  • Large gatherings and religious services remain suspended until further notice.

 

  • Essential businesses, including pharmacies, fuel stations, and grocery stores, are exempt from the closure order.

 


Authorities could ease restrictions related to COVID-19 or implement additional preventative measures, depending on the disease activity in the coming days and weeks.

Background and Analysis
Iraq's travel restrictions and preventive measures are similar to actions other governments are taking globally 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. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

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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