Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Kuwait make wearing of face masks in public mandatory nationwide as of May 18 to curb spread of COVID-19.

This alert affects Kuwait

This alert began 18 May 2020 02:18 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Increased security, travel and business disruptions

Kuwaiti authorities have ordered the mandatory wearing of face masks in public nationwide as of May 18 to curb the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Individuals who do not comply with the regulation will face fines or imprisonment.

A 24-hour nationwide curfew remains in place through May 30. All nonessential businesses remain closed for the duration of the measure. Public sector employees are required to work remotely, and banks are closed but still provide electronic services. Grocery stores are allowed to open; however, residents have to book an appointment in advance, and only one person per family is permitted to shop. Home delivery services are permitted for food and medical supplies. Print newspapers and in-person media interviews are suspended. Residents can engage in outdoor fitness activities in residential neighborhoods between the hours of 1630-1830 daily but must comply with social distancing mandates. Workers employed in essential sectors, such as health, security, and infrastructure, are exempt from the curfew. A previously imposed closure of nonessential government institutions and private agencies remains in effect through May 31.

All commercial flights to and from Kuwait remain indefinitely suspended since March 13. International arrivals are limited to Kuwaiti nationals and cargo planes. Schools and universities will remain closed until Aug. 4. Authorities have also banned Kuwaiti citizens from meeting in restaurants, cafes, and commercial centers. Additional restrictions remain likely, depending on the evolution of disease activity over the coming days and weeks.

Background and Analysis
Kuwait's 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.

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