Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: International flights in Malawi resumed Sept. 1 at Lilongwe's Kamuzu International Airport; various COVID-19 measures remain active.
Alert Begins 08 Sep 2020 12:18 PM UTC
Alert Expires 22 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Transportation and business disruptions; possible freight delays
International commercial passenger flights to and from Malawi resumed following the reopening of Kamuzu International Airport (LLW) in Lilongwe Sept. 1. However, travel to Malawi will require a negative coronavirus disease COVID-19 test taken within 10 days prior to arrival in Malawi, followed by 14-days of self-isolation. Travelers who fail to produce a negative COVID-19 test will be denied entry into the country.
As of Sept. 8, authorities are maintaining various restrictive measures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19. These include:
- Public gatherings may not exceed 100 people.
- The wearing of protective facemasks is mandatory in public spaces, including at LLW.
- Pubs, restaurants, and places of worship have been closed until further notice. Restaurants are restricted to take-out and delivery service.
- Several of the country's land borders are reportedly open; however, delays at crossings are likely due to enhanced screening measures.
All restrictions are subject to amendment at short notice in response to government reviews. Security forces have been deployed to ensure compliance. Fines will be issued to persons not complying with the COVID-19-related measures.
Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the Malawian government are similar to actions taken by other regional governments in recent months in response to the spread of COVID-19. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. Restrictions in Malawi have been successfully challenged recently. The High Court in Malawi indefinitely extended an injunction blocking the government from implementing a nationwide stay-at-home order April 28. The order follows a temporary injunction against nationwide movement restrictions by the court April 17, following a legal challenge by the opposition-aligned human rights group, Malawi Human Rights Defenders Coalition (MHRDC). There have been no additional court challenges since April; however, should the government seek to implement additional, particularly domestic restrictive measures, these could be further challenged, either through the courts or demonstrations.
Reconfirm all planned travel arrangements. Plan accordingly for protracted commercial, transport, and logistics disruptions. Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Consider delaying travel 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.
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.