Severity: Critical Alert
Entry/Exit: Kurdistan Regional Government plan to ease some COVID-19-related restrictions; mosques to reopen May 11. Other measures remain across Iraq.
This alert affects Iraq
This alert began 08 May 2020 02:25 GMT and is scheduled to expire 22 May 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Incident: Restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Significant travel and business disruptions, heightened security
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced that it would reopen mosques across the region, May 11, as part of measures to ease restrictions due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Friday prayers in Kurdistan will resume May 15. An 1800-2359 curfew remains in place across the region through at least May 10.
In the rest of Iraq, the Federal Government previously announced a curfew Sunday through Thursday 1800-0600, and a 24-hour curfew Fridays and Saturdays, through at least May 22. Authorities have required individuals to wear masks outside their homes and maintain safe social distancing in stores. Cars are not allowed to carry more than three passengers. Individuals who do not comply with the measures will face fines.
A lockdown on Kirkuk Governorate remains in place through May 9. All entry and exit points of the governorate are closed except for media and medical personnel. State departments are also closed during this period. Additionally, authorities introduced vehicle restrictions nationwide beginning May 5 based on the last digit of the license plate number. Officials have not announced how long the measure will last.
Iraq also extended its existing suspension of domestic and international flights through 2000 May 22. The measure does not apply to emergency and cargo flights. Authorities permitted some shops and markets to operate. Schools, restaurants, and shopping centers will remain closed, and large gatherings and religious services remain suspended until further notice. Pharmacies, fuel stations, and grocery stores are exempt from the closure order.
Significant disruptions to public and private sector activities, including cross-border trade and the provision of travel documents and visas, will likely persist. Authorities could introduce new restrictions, depending on the evolution of disease activity in the coming days.
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.
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.